BYU alumni and students promote fight against poverty

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Spencer Yamada, part of the progressdaily.com organization  recently launched the website promoting the fight against global poverty. (Spencer Yamada)
Spencer Yamada, part of the progressdaily.com organization, recently launched the website promoting the fight against global poverty.
(Spencer Yamada)

Three BYU graduates recently launched the Progress Daily website to help combat poverty.

Spencer Yamada, Ben Young and Adam Turville joined with director John Hoffmire to help promote and inform the public about recent efforts being made around the globe to help those in need.

The students and director became involved through BYU’s School of Management seminar called Progress Through Business at the University of Oxford. The seminar’s purpose was to build innovative ideas of how to fight the global issue of poverty.

Progress Daily acts as a new source for fighting poverty and general standards of living.

What unites those that work for the organization is their purpose to serve and help others, according to Yamada.

Yamada said the website’s current employees all graduated from college with different degrees yet used their experience to their advantage to help the cause.

“From farms in the Philippines that hires laborers, to a program in L.A. that helps kids learn about financial literacy,” Yamada said, “they are integral parts of the website. We are trying to be the information bridge for the good-doers in the world and those that want to know more.”

Yamada said Progress Daily is directly involved with BYU’s standard of going forth to serve others. Student volunteers among service organizations on campus are also trying to make a difference to help fight poverty.

Trevor Lilywhile, a junior studying in chemical engineering from New Mexico, has become involved with Habitat for Humanity for almost 18 months and has been assigned as project director for just under a year. Yamada and Lilywhile both mentioned volunteering has made them more qualified for their career goals.

“It’s great for students to become involved in this because it is important work that we do,” Lilywhile. “It builds leadership experience and your resume. Recruiters will look at your experiences and your volunteer work. It stands out to people when applying for a job.”

He also said making the time to serve others is worthwhile and can make a big difference for those in need.

“A lot of times we just get into our own little bubble, our own lives. But once we look past that and see the needs of others I think it’s a natural thing to want to help improve the lives of others,” Lilywhile said.

Cameron Zenger has also become involved with Y-Serve through Habitat for Humanity over the past couple of years as assistant director. Zenger said he volunteers to help fight poverty to improve the lives of others and to be a source of a continuing service.

Zenger, a senior in Microbiology from Boston, said he searched for ways to become involved after returning to BYU from his LDS mission. He said it felt as if “something was missing.”

“The focus is to give some one a hand up, not just a hand out,” Zenger said. “To give someone that opportunity to get back on their feet to give someone a chance to have a home, someplace they can think is safe is really important to me because it’s something I’ve had my whole life. I’ve seen those who don’t have a home and how tragic that can be.”

Zenger said he thinks a solution to fighting poverty is simply giving others the capacity to excel and a chance not only to start over but the resources to do so.

Along with Zenger and Lilywhile, others can found in the Y-Serve office or even outside giving their time and effort to help serve others have found the experience and positions they need to help them excel in their life goals. Kevin Ung, a junior in business from Virginia explained that he has found his niche at Y-Serve as on the service council, in assistant programming.

Ung said his involvement and experience at Y-Serve has helped him understand it is exactly what he wants to do in his future career in business working with human resources.

“I get to see students come in looking for a way to serve and help them to find a place where they can do service. There’s over 70 groups and they all do something different. That’s helped me realize everyone in this world has needs but we forget them in order to give back,” Ung said.

Yamada, like Ung, Zenger and Lilywhile, said he realized serving others and volunteer work can influence future career paths.

“We want students to know they can use their education to make a difference,” Yamada said. “I think the only way to change the world is to power individuals to make a difference around them.”

Chris Crippen, director of Y-Serve, works and trains with student volunteers to prepare them to serve to their full potential.

“Our mission is to help every student receive a meaningful service opportunity. Second, it is to ensure they maintain a lifelong love of service,” Crippen said. “All of our activities are geared around that mission of providing the students with something that has meaning.”

He said students learn skills that affect their future and who they will be for the rest of their lives. He also said reports have been made that determine students who are involved with Y-Serve tend to be involved with service far after graduation.

“I have watched students come out of their shells, it is a time in their life when they are very self focused. Our office exists to help students see beyond that,” Crippen said.

 

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