Congratulations to Nora VanRees for being awarded YWCA Clark County’s 2023 Young Women of Achievement (YWOA) scholarship.
Nora VanRees is truly passionate about community service, is an active leader, and embodies our mission. The YWOA scholarship is possible for YWCA Clark County to continue presenting due to scholarship funds left to us by the now-disbanded Soroptimist International of Vancouver.
Among the numerous groups, organizations, and projects VanRees has led, one of the greatest things she did was during her sophomore year, when she founded the nonprofit Here N Queer, which provides resources and free comfort kits to LGBTQIA+ youth.
“My purpose behind creating Here N Queer is to help the world become a more accepting place for all queer people, especially LGBTQIA+ youth. As a part of this community, I want to help people feel like they belong,” says VanRees.
She launched “Here for You,” Here N Queer’s free resource kit shipment and online database program. The nonprofit has packaged over 100 kits for free and published over 500+ resource entries online. Here N Queer has reached youths from all across the United States as well as Bangladesh, Poland, and India, and has received international recognition.
“I have been featured in Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, Channel Kindness, and as an Invisalign Changemaker,” says VanRees. “Most of all, I have gotten messages of hope and joy from kids across the globe.”
The dedication shown by VanRees has made a powerful impact. “Nora creates spaces of joy and belonging through her own personal experiences with her LGBTQIA+ nonprofit, Here N Queer, raising thousands of dollars for the movement,” says Abigayle of Magnify Wellness.
Dedicated to the cause
Abigayle started working with VanRees in July 2020, when VanRees joined Magnify Wellness, a nonprofit whose mission is to ensure everyone gains equal access to mental health support. Since then, VanRees has progressed through the ranks, from being a Mental Health Changemaker to becoming the Director of Mental Health Changemakers, to Lead Mentor, and then executive secretary.
Abigayle says, “[Nora] grew our free online database of community resources from 0 to 2000+ while collaborating in a tight knit team. She listened to others’ ideas and is very receptive to feedback. Most importantly, she is passionate about our cause.”
Towards the end of her junior year, the CEO of Magnify Wellness was stepping down, but VanRees refused to let Magnify fall apart. She asked if she could interview for the position, and ended up becoming President of the nonprofit. Since then, she has been working several hours per week managing a team of 30+ international volunteers to help over 50,000 youth access the mental health resources they need.
Looking towards the future
VanRees will be pursuing a career in political science, specifically policymaking and equity work. With this award, she says, “I will be able to spend more time focused on improving the world, and less time worrying about being able to afford my education.”
She also takes time for herself to relax and unwind, adding, “When I’m not busy with my advocacy work, you can find me reading, eating a ridiculous amount of Pad Thai, or spending time with my family and friends.”
As a YWOA scholarship recipient, VanRees is sure to continue to make a positive change wherever she goes.
“Nora has already achieved much in her young life, and her competence and drive are considerable,” says Vancouver School of Arts and Academics teacher Jody. “Best of all, Nora has an inner core of altruism that permeates everything she does, whether it is her nonprofit work or helping her classmates. Whatever her future path, Nora will dedicate her life to helping people.”