From visitor to volunteer to director: Chase grows up with YWCA’s The Zone

Andy Chase, a senior majoring in journalism and broadcasting, is spending his final year of college juggling being a full-time student and full-time employee. In fall 2018, he was named director of The Zone, an after school program for middle school students operated by the YWCA in Hastings, Nebraska.

Chase was very familiar with The Zone, as he spent time there himself when he was a middle school student — and later volunteered as a high school and college student.

As a sixth grader, Chase said he faced difficulties like bullying but always looked forward to the after school program he went to every weekday. When adding in his volunteer time at the program, Chase said he grew up with the program for a majority of his life. Now uses his own experience to help others through hard times.

“Middle school was hard for me, but The Zone was there supporting me through it all,” Chase said. “I wanted to help upcoming middle schoolers through hard times like The Zone helped me, and as a director, I can pass that on to the volunteers.”

Andy Chase

When the position became available in the summer of 2018, leaders at The Zone didn’t have to ask Chase to apply. They knew he’d take the position in a heartbeat.

Chase manages a student staff that works with up to 70 students each afternoon. They offer educational programming like homework sessions and tutoring, and fun events like  dodgeball tournaments, all while encouraging positive behavior traits to the volunteers to pass on to the students.

Chase said kept traditional events he enjoyed as a student, like the annual Thanksgiving sleepover where students spend the night at The Zone the weekend before Thanksgiving. The event promotes hunger and homelessness awareness.

One thing Chase wants every student to remember when leaving The Zone, is to stay true to themselves.

“Always have fun and always be yourself,” Chase said. “It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of you because at the end of the day, you’re dealing with your own thoughts in your mind; make them positive and enjoy each day to its fullest.”

Hastings College impact

During his college search, Chase considered a variety of schools, but ultimately Hastings College’s small, intimate atmosphere and The Zone helped him decide.

“One night I was thinking about where I wanted to go and I couldn’t help but think, ‘Do I really want to go somewhere else, or get the small college feel and still be involved at The Zone,’” Chase said. “That was a monumental moment in my life and I chose to stay here in Hastings, I’m so glad I did because now I’m doing what I love everyday.”

Although Chase is a double major within the sports media field, he hopes to obtain a job within his career choice and be involved in The Zone after graduation.

This is not Chase’s first leadership role. Throughout his college career, Chase has worked several managerial positions like assistant sports information director and assistant sports director for Hastings College media and athletics. Each of his positions have helped him prepare for his new role.

By Dany Cook, a senior from Fairfield, California, majoring in journalism and broadcasting.

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