Meet the Staff Behind Hands4Hope Clubs: Nicole Craine & Kathy Van Saun


Behind every Hands4Hope Middle and High School Club is a staff member who works tirelessly to make the club function as smoothly and efficiently as possible. From transporting hundreds of of donations to food banks and shelters and making countless pizza runs to Costco, to organizing leadership camps and collaborating with school staff, Kathy Van Saun (H4H Middle School Club Program) and Nicole Craine (H4H High School Club Program) have done it all!

Learn more about these important Hands4Hope mentors below as they share their experiences and thoughts on working with Hands4Hope Youth.

Nicole Craine, Youth Development Program Coordinator

What is your position with Hands4Hope and which schools do you work with?

I am the Youth Development Coordinator, and I oversee the middle and high school education program and work directly with youth leaders and club participants from four local high schools: Folsom, Oak Ridge, Ponderosa and Union Mine.

What has your experience been like working with the different clubs and age groups?

I really enjoy working across all grades and in different schools. The variety of youth participants who engage in service learning is inspiring and motivates me to ensure our programs are open to all youth with a wide variety of options for participation.

What has been your favorite part about working with the clubs?

I very much enjoy witnessing young people learn about a local need and get creative about how they can help. I have the privilege of watching youth gain valuable life skills through hands on project development and implementation, and see firsthand how participants become more socially aware and civic minded.

What have you found to be most challenging or surprising about your work with the youth?

Time. Young people today have a lot on their plates and work hard to balance and juggle many responsibilities and extracurricular activities. I like to observe as youth learn how to prioritize and create their own time management strategies.

Is there anything else that you would like to add about this past year or your experience overall?

It has been a tremendous year for our high school clubs with all of them beginning the year at full capacity with a waiting list! It has also been a fun year to watch youth leaders who began in H4H leadership in middle school, now lead their peers in high school. Out of our 18 high school youth leaders, 10 of them were H4H leaders in middle school!

Kathy Van Saun, Youth Development Program Assistant

What is your position with Hands4Hope and which schools do you work with?

I am the Youth Development Program Assistant and the middle schools I work with include: Sutter, Marina Village, Rolling Hills, Camerado Springs and Herbert Green.

What has been your favorite part about working with the clubs?

I love seeing how motivated and capable middle school students are at raising awareness and funds for issues they care about in their communities. They have a genuine passion for making a difference and it often starts with being kind and inclusive as a club.

What have you found to be most challenging or surprising about your work with the youth?

My students constantly surprise me with creative solutions to challenges that come up during projects! They have a great sense of empowerment and really own the decisions that they make from choosing a cause they care about to deciding on the best fundraiser to meet their goals. They really care about being effective but they also learn that it's okay to learn from mistakes. I find the challenging part of working with middle school students can be helping them with time management and communication, but it's never boring! I look at it as a training ground for what they want to accomplish as leaders in high school. Their enthusiasm inspires me!

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