We have an amazing community of volunteers who faithfully and generously give their time and energy to serve seniors throughout Boulder County. In an effort to recognize their work, and so that our entire community can get to know our volunteers, we started our Volunteer of the Month award program.

We are happy to introduce you to Chris, Ria and Ella Yankee, our April 2019 Volunteers of the Month. The Yankees volunteer with Carry-Out Caravan in Boulder and squeeze in volunteering before school and extracurriculars. Shopping gets done quickly with this speedy family around!

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Ella (left), Chris (center) and Ria (right)

How long have you been volunteering with Cultivate?

Chris: We started last year right after the new year. So going on a year and a half.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Ella: I want to be a physical therapist. I’ve been in physical therapy a little bit before, and I know that when I’m doing it, it’s pretty boring. I want to make it more fun and help people.

Ria: I want to be a civil rights attorney. I’m really into women’s rights. And LGBTQ rights specifically with transgender bathroom rights.

Chris: I think I still want to be a rockstar.

What has been one of your proudest moments?

Ria: In 6th or 7th grade I won a jazz award. I play mostly tenor saxophone.

Ella: For me, I’m a gymnast. At my first meet ever I won 1st place on three events and 1st all-around. I also thought of this, as well—being nominated for Volunteer of the Month.

Chris: I was really proud a few weeks ago that they both finished first in a gymnastics meet. I was proud that they’re both doing well in something that they both currently care a great deal about. And they had this great moment together at the same time.

What makes you happy?

Ria: Learning new things.

Chris: Helping people makes me happy. That’s one of the reasons that I decided to volunteer.

Ella: That was my first thought—helping people. Also, animals.

What are some of your hobbies?

Ella: Gymnastics.

Ria: Me, too.

Ella: At school we have a program called the ILC. It’s for kids that have disabilities or need help with certain things. And I really enjoy helping them at school. I’ve also started to get into making jewelry and coloring.

Ria: I’m a musician. I’m in jazz band, and I’m learning a lot of other instruments on the side of my main instrument. Ukulele, guitar, piano, trumpet. I also play football, volleyball, and basketball.

Chris: What would you guys say my hobbies are?

Ella & Ria: Hiking.

Ella: Camping.

Ria: Washing dishes.

Chris: Washing dishes. That’s really more of a profession. I was actually going to say all of those things. Hanging out with my family. Hiking. Camping. Traveling. Doing 14ers.

What would your perfect day look like?

Chris: Thursday. Breakfast together. Do something nice for other people. Go to King Soopers. We go to King Soopers at least once a day anyway. We’re going to go there today. We have a joke that we live there. Then we go to our school and work. We like school and work. Then we go to gymnastics together. Hang out together more.

Ella: Also, just gymnastics all day. A whole day of gymnastics practice.

Ria: We have a team camp coming up in the summer where we go all day. And then we go to the pool with our friends afterwards. That’s the perfect day.

What three words would people use to describe you?

Ria: Naps. Hyper. It’s just a cycle. I also want to say spontaneous.

Ella: Probably a little—just a little—bossy. Just a tad. Athletic. Talkative. Everyone calls me talkative. Not a short story teller. They’re all long.

Chris: How would you guys describe me?

Ria: I do know you’re a really good writer but that’s not a personality thing. Detail-oriented.

Ella: Yes. Very. And funny.

Chris: Funny is nice. Everyone thinks they’re funny so that’s a nice one to have someone say about you.

Who/what inspires you?

Ria: My step-mom inspires me. Because she’s the CEO of the YWCA. Which is a women’s social justice organization. She inspires me to believe in myself and to have big dreams about what I can do.

Ella: Laurie Hernandez. She was a gymnast in the Olympics in 2016. She’s really good. She’s very positive and I love that about her. And she’s trying to come back to the Olympics in 2020.

Chris: I don’t have any famous people I would name. The biggest regular inspirations are regular people like Cultivate. People who are in the community doing things for other people.

Ria & Ella, what advice would you give to people who are older than you?

Ria: It’s harder than you think. To be young. The media has evolved so much. Now there’s so much more suicide. It’s not just random. People spend years being really sad or anxious. And grown-ups remember that there was hard stuff. But they don’t remember exactly how it felt at the time. Just because a lot of things have gotten better in the world doesn’t mean that it’s not still hard.

Ella: I would give them the advice to try to stay positive. Don’t let the little things or the big things affect the rest of your life.

Chris, what advice would you give to people who are younger than you?

Chris: Spend your time doing the things you love. But not in the house.

Ella (nodding): Gymnastics.

Why do you volunteer?

Ella: It started out with Dad.

Ria: He signed us up.

Ella: I like thinking that when I’m older, if I can’t go grocery shopping it would be really awesome for other people to help me out.

Ria: It’s going to be a robot.

Ella: Instead of me having to go out myself and having a hard time. So I like that. And knowing that we don’t have to go, but when I choose to go, which is most of the time, I think about how it’s a few more people to do all the shopping in a shorter time in order to get everyone’s done.

Ria: Well, it’s on my resume. It also makes me feel like I’m doing something useful.

Chris: For me, it makes me feel really good to do something for someone else. So that was the main thing. And it’s a bonus for me to be able to do something with the girls and to encourage them to do it. To find some way where we could do it together.

Who is a senior who has made an impact in your life, and what is one lesson you learned from them?

Chris: My grandfather. I’ve learned a lot of lessons from him, and one of them is the value of steady, hard work. Having respect for that. Not just being focused on fame, wealth, or attention—the fancy, obvious things. But the value of being able to contribute to something consistently.

Volunteering with us is easy, flexible and fun! Join our volunteer team today and, like the Yankees, make a deep impact in the lives of your senior neighbors.