2004 alumnus, Victoria Hynes, organizes a book drive to stock the new library at Cheyenne Children Services

The ultimate testament to any endeavor is the long-term impact it has on people’s lives. Time and again, our alumni return home from a teen summer program so touched by the community and the friends they made, that they can’t get them out of their heads. Coming home can also often mean culture shock, as there is usually a great disparity between how our participants live and how the people in our program communities live. This is exactly what happened to Victoria Hynes.

Victoria Hynes participated in the 2004 season Montana teen travel program on the Northern Cheyenne reservation. She 
says that she originally picked the Montana program because her mother wanted her to stay in the country. But the fact that she did, impacted her all the more.

“I would have expected to see these types of living conditions in another country”, she says, but she had viewed the United States as the land of plenty. “I couldn’t believe the poverty here. It’s hard to see so many people shorted when I have so much.”

Victoria also says that she was shocked by the lack of basic services and things that she just takes for granted. “Things like a library” Victoria says, “it is something you just expect will be in every town”. Not so where Victoria was on the reservation. “But I was so glad that Florence [Running Wolf—longtime friend of VISIONS on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation and founder of Cheyenne Children Services] was working to get one started. I just wanted to help.”

And help is exactly what Victoria did. After her return to her hometown of Kennebunk, Maine, Victoria went to her church youth ministry and proposed that they hold a book drive as their World Youth Day project. The group agreed that this would be a worthwhile project, so they went to each Sunday school class and asked them to donate books which would be shipped to Cheyenne Children Services (CCS) for inclusion in their new library.

They started the project in early October, and by mid November, Victoria and her youth ministry had shipped over 1200 books to CCS. They used money from their youth ministry treasury to pay for the shipping. Victoria feels proud of what she accomplished. She says, “I had such a wonderful time out there. I just wanted to give something back.”

VISIONS in The New York Times