Veola McGowan-Gilmore and LaTonya Terrell serve as Youth Directors of Chapter 20060 and Chapter 20107, respectively. Together, they collaborate on projects to increase the impact they are making in the Quad Cities community.
Royal Neighbors Youth Directors empower young leaders through mentorship, volunteerism, and positive reinforcement. Veola and LaTonya believe in leading by example. “It is a delicate balance between taking care of yourself, taking care of your family, and giving back to others,” said Veola. “I want our members to thrive in all aspects of their lives.”
Youth Chapter 20060
Chapter 20060 was established in 2008 after a group of parents learned about Royal Neighbors chapters at their children’s dance class. “The owner of the studio encouraged us to start a youth chapter,” said Veola. “I was immediately drawn to the opportunity to share the importance of volunteerism with children and their families.”
Most members in Chapter 20060 are young girls, but everyone is welcome to join. “I want to empower all youth to go out and serve others,” said Veola, “so when they become older, they are more likely to volunteer and have empathy for others.”
“Many of our volunteer activities serve children in our community,” shared Veola, “but we do not put limitations around our service to others.” Chapter 20060 volunteers at church activities, donates toys during the holidays, and purchases medical equipment for neighbors in need, to name a few.
One of the members’ favorite activities is shopping for birthday gifts for children receiving services at Family Resources. “The children receiving the gifts are so appreciative,” said Veola, “and our members love the opportunity to make someone else’s birthday special.”
Youth Chapter 20107
LaTonya Terrell began a chapter in 2010 after hearing about Royal Neighbors from a friend. “I was inspired by Royal Neighbors’ mission to empower women,” said LaTonya. “With the support from our community and chapter funding, we are able to make a greater impact and serve more community members in both Illinois and Iowa.”
LaTonya enjoys hosting educational workshops and lock-ins – allowing her to connect with members one-on-one and build meaningful relationships. “I draw so much inspiration and strength from our youth members,” said LaTonya. “Every interaction is time well spent.”
Chapter 20107 works with community organizations to maximize their efforts, but they also recognize the power of impacting one life at a time. Activities range from cleaning up local parks to helping a neighbor with yard work. “When a need is brought to our attention, we figure out a way we can help,” said LaTonya. “Our only focus is helping others and inspiring our youth members to do the same.”
Chapter 20107 and Chapter 20060 have worked together on many activities throughout the years, including delivering meals to homebound residents, leading activities at nursing homes, and serving food at an after-school program. “It is wonderful seeing our youth chapters collaborate on projects,” said Amy Finn, Member Engagement Specialist. “Our youth members are the future of volunteerism, and to see them engaged and passionate about giving back to their communities speaks volumes to the leadership that Veola and LaTonya are providing.”
This year, the chapters will open a new food pantry at The Lincoln Center in Davenport, Iowa. “We have been serving food through our church,” said Veola. “Our new space will allow us to serve more of our neighbors and utilize more volunteers.”
“It’s exciting to be able to expand the impact we’re making and show our youth members how to put a plan into action,” said LaTonya. The chapters will host fundraisers to cover the cost of food and some of the operating expenses and partner with River Bend Food Bank to purchase food at discounted rates.
“My favorite part of being a Youth Director is giving back to the community and inspiring our youth,” said Veola. “It feels good to help others,” added LaTonya, “and we can do more together.”