The Kids Are Allright: Why I love volunteering for YouthEntity

by AliMargo on November 13, 2014

My WriteOn! Scribes: (L to R) Elana, Lillie, and Brooklyn. (Not pictured: Fatima)

My entire career was inspired by one person.I was a sophomore in college, taking the prerequisites to apply to the journalism school at the University of Colorado at Boulder and was not loving Reporting or Mass Media 101. I wasn’t sure if learning grammar and spelling and Associated Press Style was my thing. Then one day, Kathleen Gasperini, who was editor of Snowboarder magazine at the time, came and spoke to my class.

“You can be the editor of a snowboarding magazine?” I thought. “I want to do that!”

And that’s precisely what I did. Because of that one person, that one day, that one class, the entire trajectory of my life changed. I enjoyed an amazing career as an editor at Transworld Snowboarding magazine for almost seven years and traveled all over the world writing about my favorite sport.

I wanted to pay it forward and possibly make that kind of impact on someone else’s life, which is why I volunteered for Youth Entity, a non-profit in Carbondale, CO that provides “real life education” for high school kids in the Roaring Fork Valley. Best known for their programs in Culinary Arts, Finance and Web Technology, I founded “WriteOn!” their first-ever professional writing course. My goal is to introduce high school students to professional applications for writing, from journalism and publishing to online media. I will also give them some college counseling in providing information on colleges that offer related programs as well as summer writing workshops.

The Youth Entity Center is located at the Bridges School in Carbondale, CO

My hope is that I can introduce them to the possibilities they did not know existed, and in doing so, can possibly make an impact on their lives and for their future. This is the first semester the course is being offered, so I only have four students but it’s been an amazing experience for all of us to work in such an intimate, small group setting.

What I love about Youth Entity is it’s a small organization run a shoestring budget that has been able to accomplish big things, including furnishing an industrial kitchen and building this beautiful facility in Carbondale. In other words, it’s a far cry from the some of the bigger non-profits out there, and it’s nice to know the money that’s donated goes directly to the cause, and not to running the administration.

Kirsten McDaniel, YouthEntity Executive Director

My Executive Director, Kirsten McDaniel is a powerhouse: a former chemical engineer who was able to “retire” young after a career at Dow Chemicals. Her idea of retirement is working full time at Youth Entity where she has helped the organization win several awards, including the Julie & Spencer Penrose Award for Outstanding Not-for-profit in Colorado, the Top 100 Hospitality Program, the Sullivan University Hospitality 100 Committee, and the Local Hero Award, by Edible Aspen.

The focus of this writing workshop is for the students to produce their own blog, which they’ve decided to call Take Another Peak. So far, they’ve written about some pretty intense topics, from teenage drunk driving and eating disorders to sex and music. I am really excited to take them to Aspen for the first Aspen Writers Foundation Winter Words event with Jess Walter who wrote the #1 New York Times Best Seller, Beautiful Ruins. A big thanks to AWF for donating the tickets for my students to be able to attend.

To make a donation or to learn more about Youth Entity, visit their web site,

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