Lighting the torch of change: Youth volunteering in Haiti

women organizing book fair
All photos courtesy of Jimmy Regis

By Elise Kemp

As a part of the YLAI Network’s mission, community involvement in fostering development is critical. Hearing about the impact that our networkmembers are making in their own communities is a real privilege and helps us see how impactful it can be to volunteer locally.

Lifting up others in your community

Jimmy Regis

YLAI Network member Jimmy Regis, the public relations manager of ADIVAH (Association for Integral Development of Haitian Values) in Haiti, is a lifelong advocate of lifting up others in the community. ADIVAH is a group of youth volunteers who put their leadership into practice by serving the community. They truly live up to their name, as their actions “inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more,” the group says.

Jimmy has been with ADIVAH since 2010, after an earthquake that destroyed his community. He met the organization while he was becoming an aspiring leader himself in civic training school, and grew with the organization to become one of their educators.

Recuperating after a devastating earthquake

adivah logo

Seventy percent of Haiti’s population is under 30 years old, and seeing that, Jimmy saw a need to train young leaders to help their own communities from within — especially after the devastation of the earthquake. When Jimmy joined the organization, he saw a lot of discouragement in his people. He saw his country with a lack of confidence in what was possible and what could change. But he stepped into a role that would mobilize leaders to “create hope, and create the kind of change they wanted to see.”

One of the first impacts that Jimmy recounted goes back to when he was trained in school as an agricultural economist. He saw his neighbors struggling with a plot of land. He stepped in and was able to help this family recover their plot of land to make an agricultural project. When people saw the kind of work that was helping others, they decided they wanted to join in.

The organization saw an opportunity to “light a torch of change by providing dynamics of self-transcendence” that would help promote national strength, especially to leaders in positions of resolving conflicts and finding solutions to problems. It all starts with one volunteer who is willing to fill a need in society. Jimmy’s optimistic attitude can be summarized with the fact that he does not see problems, he only sees opportunities for creative solutions.

Networking in action

Jimmy has been able to partner with different groups in the community, including other network members in Haiti that he has been able to meet with and learn from. He calls the YLAI Network “my network” because he loves the opportunities that the initiative brings him to collaborate with others and how the initiative encourages others to take advantage of the resources that can be found in relationships with other young leaders.


Not only did Jimmy see the need in his community to step in as a leader, he continuously assumes the role of a student as well so he is always developing his knowledge and skills to share with upcoming leaders. He enthusiastically invites a continued relationship and more conversations with anyone who would like to exchange for the sake of learning from one another.

The power of local volunteering

Jimmy described this work as purposeful, useful, hopeful, fulfilling, enjoyable. “Everything that brings a positive result just attracts more people to this wonderful work,” he says. The joy that ADIVAH carries is infectious, and the association has had a magnetic pull of eager volunteers who have been learning from leaders like Jimmy.

He is very vocal about the importance of persistence in working toward a goal of positive change, because it is worth it to advocate for others’ development in your community and to invest in your own. Jimmy assures us that this effort brings happiness in a way that is hard to put words to.

As a network of change-makers, we encourage you to “keep bringing light to more communities” using your resources and talents. Every act of volunteerism brings strength, ownership, and resilience to your community. Local movements gain the most traction with local support, and you can be a part of the change you want to see in the world.