April is National Volunteer Month, and as CYS recognizes the contributions of our mediators, surrogate victim advocates, and skilled translators, we are delighted to spotlight volunteer Denise Yusuff, who has been with CYS for nine years.
Denise studied sociology at Cornell University and law at Hamline School of Law. She has gone on to earn numerous certificates in the field of alternative dispute resolution, and has an ongoing interest in how childhood experience influences later behavior.
Denise was initially drawn to CYS by a desire to help teens build better relationships. “I have always believed our youth are our future,” she says, and notes that, “The earlier in life we teach an individual a skill, the more profound the impact of that knowledge will be.” Her advice to youth is to be curious about others. “The key is to ask questions and be open to the answers, to learning from someone with a different perspective.”
Through her volunteer practice with CYS, Denise became a certified VORS and FARS mediator. Her commitment made Denise a natural candidate to become a CYS presenter (trainer), herself, a role she has been performing for nearly five years.
When asked about her current goals, Denise observes that they embody the CYS mission: “Now that I’m a mother, I feel the passion to invest in our youth more than ever, to help them develop skills to make them productive, open-minded members of society.”
And she remains confident in the tools and solutions of restorative justice. “Restorative justice helps us see things through different lenses,” she says. “If more of us did that more often, we would experience far fewer conflicts!”