There have been 2 members of our Youth United program here at Twin Cities Habitat who have been with us since the program started. Leyla and Erol Soykan attended their first meeting in 2009, after their mom Lisa heard that Habitat was starting a new youth program. They have been coming to Youth United monthly meetings ever since!
Leyla was only 12 and Erol 10 when they started attending the monthly meetings, making them the youngest youth leaders at the meeting. This didn’t hold Erol and Leyla back though, they have always been two of the most imaginative, and dependable members of Youth United. Some of their most creative ideas have included HaBingo, a Haunted Substandard House, State Fair Parade floats, and a Habitat photo booth.
Leyla’s favorite activity with Youth United was the first Haunted Substandard House we hosted in 2011. Youth United decorated our Habitat office to look like a Haunted Substandard house and opened it up to the public during Halloween. The home included fire hazards, fake insects and rodents, and many other home hazards. Leyla enjoyed seeing the office building transform into a home similar to those many of our homebuyer families live in before they purchase Habitat homes. Plus it was really fun to decorate and explore the office.
Erol’s favorite event with Habitat has been showing off their “Catapults to End Poverty Housing” at one of our Homeowner Networking events at the Minnesota Children’s Museum. Erol and Leyla came up with the catapult to end poverty housing idea and worked hard to make multiple catapults. People got to launch (very hard) marshmallows at paper houses. They also showed off their home made catapults at the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project in 2010, and many other Habitat events.
One of Leyla’s favorite things about Habitat is getting to interact with the people benefitting from Habitat’s programs. She says, “it’s not everyday you get to build a house, working alongside the people who are going to live in it when it’s done.” She remembers one landscaping day when the homeowner came out and started cooking spring rolls (from scratch) and handing them out to all the volunteers. Leyla still claims these were the best spring rolls she has ever eaten. Erol also said his favorite thing about Habitat is the people, especially how everyone is easy to talk and work with.
Now 5 years later Erol and Leyla are still some of the most inspiring, creative, responsible, and engaged youth involved with Habitat.
Thank you Erol and Leyla for your dedication to Youth United!
If you would like more information on Youth United email firstname.lastname@example.org