“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”

Date: 02 March 2012

Roxana Pascan, 25,  – YMCA Baia Mare – Romania

There I was in 2004, just a normal teenager, wanting to do something more for my community, to get involved, to give my free time to volunteering activities. So I joined the local freshly founded YMCA, in Baia Mare, northern Romania. At that time we were only 6 volunteers, the first generation of Y volunteers in Baia Mare. We had good mentors, we learned how to work in a team, we became close friends, slowly forming a strong project team. We started working on our own projects, for local youth.  The team grew bigger, gathering youngsters sharing the same visions, the same goals: building a strong community, where youth played an important role. Slowly we found ourselves writing projects and implementing them: youth festivals, social inclusion camps for Roma children, anti-drugs campaigns, charity events, photo contests, basketball classes and competitions and many more.

The YMCA offered so much more though. What is more important, it offered us the opportunity to travel abroad, to meet other youngsters from other countries, different cultures. It broaden our horizon, it made us realize how different we are, but how united and how many things we have in common. YMCA thought us to become more tolerant, flexible, open-minded, active, motivated in everything we do.

Years went by, I watched the organization growing from scratch, becoming a strong voice in the local community. Today I became the CEO of YMCA Baia Mare, playing an important role in empowering youth. I never imagined that from a  Y volunteer, in years I would become a decision maker of the organization and community, working alongside with other local youth NGOs.

Now, after everything life in YMCA taught me, it is time that I become the mentor and leader for young volunteers, time to share my experience, time to give them the opportunities I was given.

If you are new or not on this road, never give up. It doesn’t matter who or where you are, you can always play an important role; but make it big, do it well and work hard, never stop asking questions, never stop learning, never stop sharing, never stop having fun. Like someone famous used to say: “do what you can, with what you have, where you are”.