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Kaitlin & Andrew

Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference has always been an organization based around the idea of bringing people together with the common goal of helping out our communities.


Through this process, it’s no surprise when two individuals get together and find that they have a lot in common. Many lifelong friendships have formed at the various outreaches, fundraisers, and events that we hold, but every so often something more beautiful and pure can rise out of that. The weather may be cold but it’s on the 14th of February that we’re all reminded of the deepest bond that brings people together: Love.


In this very special Alumni Spotlight, we’ll be looking at two such individuals who met in a Haunted House and haven’t left each other’s side since. Please join us in celebrating Kaitlin Violette and Andrew Madigan, a couple who met through Hands4Hope and are engaged to marry in March 2024!




Alumni Spotlight | Kaitlin Violette


What grade were you in and what school did you attend when you joined Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference? What years were you involved?


I was a freshman when I joined Hands4Hope! I was involved with Hands4Hope from 2014 through 2018. I was also a part of the Winter Boutique Committee in high school and returned as a volunteer when I was home for the holiday season in college. I am now part of the Hands4Hope Alumni Association Committee.


Which clubs or committees or community engagement outreaches did you participate in? Please indicate if you held any leadership positions.


During my time at Hands4Hope, I participated in many of the outreaches they have to offer. Some of my favorites were the Winter Boutique, Sister Nora’s, GVCC Kids Oasis, Mercy Creekview Senior Dinner, the Sacramento Homeless Outreach, and the Blanket Making Party.


I became very involved with the Kids Oasis at Green Valley Community Church. I started volunteering every other Saturday at the Kids Oasis and started forming relationships with the children we would watch while their parents “shopped” for free clothes and food from the church. During my sophomore year of high school, I became the head of the outreach. I was in charge of getting the volunteers, coming up with the weekly craft, and making sure we were always following the safety guidelines.



I also was on the Hands4Hope Youth Board during my junior and senior years. The Youth Board's main goal is to teach other youth how to help those in our community. Each year the Youth Board picks an organization to benefit. In 2017, during my junior year, I was the secretary of the Youth Board. I made sure I was writing down all the important information during the meetings and keeping track of everyone's volunteer hours. When I was Youth Board Secretary, we chose to benefit a local nonprofit called Sweet Dreams Foundation. Sweet Dreams builds dream bedrooms for kids who have a lifelong or terminal illness. We raised $5,000 to build a gymnastics dream room for a seven-year-old girl who was battling leukemia.


In 2018, during my senior year, I was the Youth Board President. I loved being Youth Board President because I would lead the meetings and help lead the Youth Board to decide what organization we would help that year. We chose an organization called Lilliput Families which works with extended families of children and teens to help keep them out of the foster care system. We were able to raise enough funds so they could have an emergency fund to help the families who were in need when something unexpected came up.



How did you hear about Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference? What motivated you to join?


I heard about Hands4Hope when I was researching volunteer organizations in my local area. I wanted to become more involved in helping my community and saw that Hands4Hope is a youth-led organization. I really liked that Hands4Hope teaches youth to learn leadership skills and find their own strengths!


Reflect on the experiences you have with Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference that has shaped you into the person you are today compared to when you first joined. How has Hands4Hope helped you in school, with your friends and family, and in life?


Hands4Hope helped me feel like I had a place in the world and that I was making a difference. I had a hard time making friends in high school and Hands4Hope made me feel like I belong. When I was a junior in high school I became good friends with a boy named Andrew Madigan, who was also part of the Hands4Hope Youth Board. Seven years later we are now engaged, and will be getting married in March of 2024, and we have Hands4Hope to thank!

What can you tell us about the Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference Alumni Association Committee, your role with it, and what you are most excited about?


I am excited to be part of the Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference Alumni Association Committee. I am helping start the Alumni Association and working to get more alumni involved. We are also looking at having an event around the holiday season to volunteer and give back!


What are your current personal and professional goals in life? Do you feel that Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference helped you prepare for those in any way?


One of my current goals in life is to work with youth in the mental health field. I am currently pursuing two bachelor's degrees at the University of Utah. I am majoring in Psychology and Family, Community, and Human Development. I plan on graduating this summer and want to pursue a master's in psychology to become a licensed mental health clinical counselor.


Hands4Hope helped open my eyes to see that so many people need help these days. I want to make a difference in my community by helping kids and adults who have dealt with trauma and eating disorders.

Throughout college, I have been a nanny and my love for children grows every day. The families I have worked for have said that my love for volunteering and children has really stood out to them and they know I will continue to make a difference in the future.


What value do you think Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference adds to the community?


I think Hands4Hope is a safe space for anyone to go and make a difference but also feel like they belong. When I was Youth Board President I was able to see so many different people come from all walks of life, volunteer, have fun together, and make a difference.


Do you have any plans to be involved in community service in the future?


I currently live out of state, but when I come to visit my family during the holidays I plan on volunteering and being involved in different outreaches. One of my favorite outreaches during Christmas time is the Winter Boutique! Andrew and I just moved to Florida and we are currently looking for new organizations to volunteer with here!


Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience with Hands4Hope?


After I graduated high school my parents said they would let me go on a graduation trip and I decided I wanted to volunteer in a different country! I traveled that summer with a group of young adults to Thailand and taught English from kindergarten to eighth grade. We also volunteered at a true elephant sanctuary called Elephant Valley Thailand.


Hands4Hope helped me challenge myself to step outside my comfort zone more. If I had not involved myself in volunteering for all these years, I would have never been able to push myself in new ways and learn more about myself.

 

Alumni Spotlight | Andrew Madigan


What grade were you in and what school did you attend when you joined Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference? How long were you involved? Which clubs or committees or community engagement outreaches were you involved in? Please indicate if you held any leadership positions.


I joined the Hands4Hope Club as a sophomore at Oak Ridge High School. The first committee I joined was the Children’s Committee. At the time there was a choice of supporting seniors, the military, and children and I have always done stuff for the military. When I was in Southern California I did a lot of senior-related support, so I felt like children should be my niche that year.


Before long, a new group led by three youth members came about and was called “Media Smart Youth.” This was the start of my exponential involvement with Hands4Hope. I was part of an amazing team of three Hands4Hope Club members who taught fifth graders about healthy thinking when taking into account social media and food/exercise so that they might have a better understanding of what’s healthy and what isn’t. From this team I became really good friends with my co-leaders who really showed incredible leadership while I was shy and trying to make everybody smile… shout out to Sarah and Kelly.


The next couple of years I went on to run for leadership positions within the Oak Ridge Hands4Hope Club, as well as joining the leadership teams for afterschool committees that focused on planning, fundraising, and working hard on various events from haunted houses to benefit dinners. This organization was my home in high school.


How did you hear about Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference? What motivated you to join?


I heard about Hands4Hope because I had recently moved to El Dorado Hills from Southern California. I had no friends, I struggled with socializing, and I was just looking to find something I could join to try to make new friends up here. I had a strong background with volunteer groups down south, so it was natural for me to go with Hands4Hope.


It took me until January of that school year to actually come to a meeting because I didn’t know if it was going to be accepting or very exclusive. I was so happy to find out how accepting this organization is.



Reflect on the experiences you have with Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference that have shaped you into the person you are today compared to when you first joined. How has Hands4Hope helped you in school, with your friends and family, and in life?


When I first joined I was very shy, I would have answers and ideas about so many things, but they would never escape my mind. I struggled to speak in public and with confidence in general. It took a couple of years, a few leadership retreats, and multiple opportunities to grow out of this situation, and I really was able to grow as a leader and a person. I’m now very confident when it comes to speaking up, coming up with ideas, and sharing thoughts, and I’ve gotten much better at public speaking.


I found Hands4Hope really helped me become more organized from my chaotic time management. I'm still chaotic, just not as much, and I have a stronger appreciation for so many things in life. Also, in all my interviews for internships to my current role as a mechanical designer for Northrop Grumman, I have always had great conversations about Hands4Hope, even though it’s been six years… and I bet I’ll still find ways to talk about it in six more years.


What value do you think Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference adds to the community?


Hands4Hope Youth Making a Difference empowers youth, showing them that they don’t need to be adults to make big changes in communities. It shows how valuable and essential a group of kids can be when given the right tools and resources to succeed.

What can you tell us about the Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference Alumni Association Committee, your role with it, and what you are most excited about?


The Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference Alumni Association Committee is a great way to allow former participants of Hands4Hope to network and empower current youth of Hands4Hope. My role is to help develop the committee with a few other incredible former and current Hands4Hope participants. I’m most excited to see the alumni network grow and to see how that growth can help the overall vision of the organization.


Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience with Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference?


I just wanted to thank Hands4Hope for giving me not only a very memorable high school experience and opportunities to make a difference, but also for the incredible people I met along the way. I met my now fiancé Kaitlin in Hands4Hope around the time I was working at the Haunted House (a prior Hands4Hope fundraiser). I really do think about where I would be today without having joined, if I would have gone through the rest of high school with the forever-alone mentality, or if I would have come out the same way. Either way, Hands4Hope made the difference I needed in my life.

What are your current personal and professional goals in life? Do you feel that Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference helped you prepare for those in any way?


One of my personal goals is to create a program similar to Hands4Hope where young engineers can come up with solutions in their communities. Following the same structure and trying to empower young people to be creative and innovative in their community.


Professionally, I want to become a better leader as an aerospace engineer in my field and use my experiences from Hands4Hope to help me empower my colleagues to be better versions of themselves. Hands4Hope gave me the tools, I just need to put them to work.


Do you have any plans to be involved in community service in the future?


I would like to one day come back and do some events with Hands4Hope and I plan to try to stay as involved as I can from across the country.



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