Board member loves helping youth in transition
Rafik Fouad joined YWCA of Clark County’s volunteer corps in 2008 with its Independent Life Skills program. The financial advisor with First Pacific Financial has expanded his commitment to the organization over the past decade, first becoming a member of the finance committee, then a member of its board of directors. We spoke with Rafik recently about his dedication to the YWCA and how it has changed his life.
Your volunteer work dates back to 2008 and the Independent Life Skills (ILS) program. Why were you attracted to that particular type of volunteer work, and what was your role?
I was looking for an organization that I could serve. Community involvement has always been something I admired about other professionals in the area. When I inquired about ways to help, the Volunteer Director suggested I go to the first all-volunteer meeting. At the meeting, I found a foosball table in the ILS room and was hooked. I found it most natural to bond with the youth in ILS with a healthy competitive spirit. Once connected, it was easier to help them with the life skills they were seeking. The skills are often within reach: getting their high school diploma, connecting them with their first job in the community, or even just being a conduit of furniture for their first apartment.
What keeps you connected to the ILS program?
Supporting foster youth who are aging out of the system as they navigate the complex world of being an adult has been an amazing experience. Helping these young adults get better at understanding money, furnishing their first apartment, obtaining an education, and getting their first job. My favorite day each year is youth advocacy day in Olympia. My fondest memory was being in the gallery as the State passed legislation to increase the foster care age to 21. It was incredible to see the efforts of our youth, making it just a little bit easier for those coming through the system after them.
What are the rewards of volunteering for YWCA?
Volunteering with the YWCA has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have the career I do today due to the connections I’ve made. I joined the finance committee to build my professional resume. Little did I know that another member of the committee would eventually introduce me to the business that I work for today. YWCA has given me more than I’ve given.
What challenges have you helped the YWCA with?
The YWCA is like the benevolent tree in the children’s book, “The Giving Tree.” The need is so vast that the YWCA would give so much of itself to benefit those in need that it can begin to hinder the long-term sustainability of the organization. The balance between helping those at our front door today versus ensuring we can help those in need far into the future is the question with which we continually wrestle.
What qualities does a person need to be a successful YWCA volunteer?
Someone needs to love people & show up. Being patient with people in the midst of encountering a significant struggle is a developable skill. We run into tragic situations that most of our community turns a blind eye. Luckily, the Y’s team trains volunteers on how to practice self-care, maintain appropriate boundaries, and meet people where they are.
“These gains wouldn’t be possible without the quiet heroes who work for YWCA Clark County.”