Empowering the young: Murray Youth Chamber of Commerce leads the wayJul 03, 2023 12:58PM ● By Shaun Delliskave
Service never takes a holiday, so the Murray Youth Chamber of Commerce (MYCC) is active 12 months of the year. At least, that’s what the leaders of MYCC say. The MYCC has emerged as a transformative force, igniting a sense of empowerment, inspiration and community engagement among the youth of Murray City. Since its establishment in 2002, MYCC has been dedicated to nurturing personal and professional growth, fostering a deep sense of belonging and creating invaluable opportunities for young individuals.
Sheri Van Bibber, the advisor of MYCC, believes in seeking gaps in the system and creating solutions to fill them. Reflecting on the program’s origins, Van Bibber said, “Some of our students had so much fun and became more attached to our community that we went in search across the United States to see what other youths were doing in this age group (ninth-12th). My theory has always been, ‘Look for a gap in the system and create that need to fill it.’”
Initially established in collaboration with the Youth City Government, MYCC faced challenges when budget constraints emerged. However, Van Bibber volunteered to sustain the program, ensuring its continuity. Demonstrating resilience and determination, MYCC expanded its initiatives by securing grants for internships, organizing projects like Youth CERT and finance classes, and operating throughout the year. Recognizing the evolving interests of today’s youth, MYCC adjusted its name from Murray Youth City Council/Chamber of Commerce to Murray Youth Community Council to engage more students interested in community involvement and service.
As MYCC evolves and expands, new initiatives and projects are on the horizon. The Murray Chamber of Commerce recently created a foundation to support obtaining more grants, enabling increased youth involvement in internships and apprenticeships.
Dedicated to providing diverse learning opportunities for youth, MYCC focuses on training and education in various areas. Expressing the organization’s plans, Van Bibber said, “We would like to do more youth CERT training because our kiddos will have the energy to be of great help, and the same with CPR training, bullying training, suicide prevention, blood shortages, climate change and internet safety. We look at real-life scenarios and go where the students have an interest.”
With a focus on youth development, community engagement and entrepreneurial training, MYCC aims to provide a nurturing environment for young entrepreneurs to explore their passions and build essential skills. Van Bibber emphasizes the organization’s goal: “We aim to empower, inspire, and create opportunities for the future leaders of Murray City.”
MYCC believes in amplifying the voices of young individuals and providing platforms for them to engage with local government officials. Through annual visits to the legislature, MYCC students could work with the Utah Leagues of Cities & Towns, connecting with the governor, mayor, city council and Murray representatives.
Van Bibber explained, “We want the students to get to know what district they live in and who their representative is. We want them to visit the different commissions and learn they do have a voice.”
Success stories and testimonials from students involved with MYCC demonstrate the program’s effectiveness in creating impactful experiences. Van Bibber shared an inspiring story: “Last year, our youth mayor received a call from a university asking about her relationship to this MYCC Project, specifically the Haunted Woods service event. Our focus is to make these students stand out in a sea of applications so they get as much funding as possible.” She further emphasized the importance of impactful projects: “What is one main project you do that gives back to your community? It’s not about 50 different little things but a main effort to impact.”
MYCC actively collaborates with local businesses, government agencies, and community organizations. Partnerships with the Murray Chamber of Commerce, Murray City, the Murray Exchange Club, and over 100 nonprofit organizations and youth city groups have strengthened MYCC’s ability to provide valuable opportunities for students.
Through these collaborations, MYCC offers a leadership program in partnership with the American Red Cross, enabling students to earn a Red Cord for graduation, recognizing their humanitarian service. This program instills the values of service and leadership, preparing students for their future endeavors.
Engagement with schools in the area is another crucial aspect of MYCC’s mission. Van Bibber acknowledged the support from the school district and expressed the desire to spark interest in eighth graders transitioning to high school. She revealed, “Most of our members say this is Murray’s best kept secret. We want to let this secret out of the bag. There is a lot going on with education and youth with legislation right now, and we want the kids to know if they want to have a voice, we have avenues to support where they want to go.”
What distinguishes the Murray City Youth Chamber of Commerce from similar organizations nationwide? Van Bibber shared her thoughts, citing an article published in Washington, D.C., that recognized MYCC’s uniqueness. “We are chambers of commerce and service groups, and though service groups are considered a dying breed, they are necessary to human relationships in a time when an electronic device seems to be the closest friend sometimes,” Van Bibber said.
As MYCC progresses in its mission to empower and inspire the youth of Murray City, the organization remains dedicated to creating meaningful and lasting contributions to the community. By cultivating young entrepreneurs, promoting civic leadership, and amplifying voices, MYCC seeks to mold a generation of passionate individuals poised to effect positive change.
Furthermore, an MYCC participant highlighted the program’s impact on their personal growth, sharing their own experiences. They said, “During my upbringing, I did not possess a natural inclination toward service, nor did I actively seek opportunities to assist others. However, MYCC has profoundly transformed my perspective on service. I have developed a genuine passion for finding ways to support and serve others within my community, and this commitment will undoubtedly persist throughout my lifetime.”
Van Bibber concluded, “We aim to instill a sense of responsibility, community engagement, and civic leadership in the participants. We want the students to know that if they want to have a voice, we have avenues to support where they want to go.”
For more information about the Murray City Youth Chamber of Commerce and how to get involved, visit murrayyouthexcel.com or contact Sheri Van Bibber at [email protected]. λ