The mission of Youth Advocating Leadership & Learning is to develop a co-beneficiary relationship between those living in great need due to a natural disaster and the members of Y'ALL. Our organization accomplishes this by facilitating student-led disaster relief trips to provide physical and emotional support for those in need while instilling leadership skills and a sense of altruism in all members of the organization through its service and standards of excellence. Y'ALL strives to assist members and utilize their learned skills to collaborate with other student and community groups to educate about the need for youth-driven service at both the local and national levels.
After Hurricane Katrina made landfall in August of 2005, many people wanted to help those affected by the storm, but were unsure of how to do so. Seeing this wealth of volunteer spirit, a handful of students at Indiana University independently decided to find ways to mobilize interested volunteers to the coast. In December 2005, these student leaders took 200 volunteers on Y'ALL’s first relief trip to Pass Christian, Mississippi. As word of the success of the first trip spread, Y'ALL organizers were unable to stem the tide of new, interested volunteers, and many of the original trip-goers had a pressing desire to return to the coast. Therefore, Y’ALL was born at IU to harness this passion for volunteerism and to continue serving those in need along the gulf. In just two years of operation, Y'ALL has grown to three universities (Indiana, Purdue, and IUPUI), and taken 11 separate week-long relief trips to the gulf coast (seven to Mississippi and four to New Orleans), with a total of over 1,000 student volunteers whose more than 40,000 hours of work amounts to greater than a half-million dollars in volunteer labor.
Along with the enormous financial support that Y'ALL has brought to Katrina victims, student volunteers have also provided tremendous emotional support to those directly affected by the storm. Y'ALL continues to be a sign to Katrina victims that many of their fellow Americans have not forgotten about them. In fact, Y’ALL has made a 5-year commitment to help rebuild lives and restore hope to the hurricane-ravaged gulf coast by continuing relief trips each Winter, Spring, and Summer break until at least 2010. Each Y'ALL chapter has become a very successful and influential student service organization at their respective university. With its unique student-driven mission and structure, Y'ALL has garnered enormous recognition and support from both the university communities and the general public. In April 2007, the founders of Y'ALL were even honored by the Indiana State General Assembly for the organizations significant contribution to the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. With such wonderful support and two years of Gulf coast experience under their belt, the Y'ALL leaders are continuing to spread to other campuses. As new chapters are established, the hope is that they will be mentored by leaders of an existing chapter.