Your Name: James Carras
Location: Miami, Florida
NYAB Term(s): 2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2009-2010
Update us! What has happened to you since you last served on the NYAB?After three years on the Souper Bowl of Caring National Youth Advisory Board, I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Here I worked as a photographer for the school newspaper, studied abroad in China, served as president for the Orthodox Christian Fellowship youth group, hosted the annual TEDxUNC conference, and joined the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity. In May 2014 I received a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy with a Minor in Entrepreneurship. I love Chapel Hill with all of my heart, and always look forward to returning to "the Southern part of heaven."
Since graduating college, I interned for my local congresswoman, worked as a field organizer for a statewide political campaign, and most recently, completed my five-year long employment with the Orthodox Christian Network (www.myocn.net) as Director of Parish & Donor Relations. I can confidently say that my experience with the Souper Bowl of Caring prepared me to work hard for the causes that mean the most to me. Till this day, I tell folks about the Souper Bowl whenever I get the chance.
What are you doing now?Last month I began a new job with the University of Miami, where I am working in the Office of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations as a Development Director. I will be visiting alumni around the country to hear their experiences with the University, keep them engaged and connected, and solicit donations to help fund scholarships. I am excited about this new opportunity because it is my first job with professional standards set this high. I look forward to growing personally and professionally and bringing further value to the University for years to come.
How would you say serving on the NYAB influenced your life?Serving on the NYAB profoundly influenced my life in so many ways. For one, it was the first time I realized the amount of poverty and hunger in America. Second, I was beyond blessed to serve multiple terms on the National Youth Advisory Board. Every member from each year, every Saturday at a Salvation Army or Food Pantry, every Sunday after Church at the Soup Kitchen, has profoundly inspired me to share my time, talent and treasure with others. I will never forget the amazing things my fellow youth advisory board members and I accomplished together, where friendships and memories are held close to my heart. Years after serving on the NYAB, I am proud to devote my Super Bowl Sunday to answering phone calls from groups around the country. It is one of my favorite activities to hear from folks of all different denominations. Some may give a little, some may give a lot, but they are all proud of their efforts. Every penny and canned item does make a difference in their community. So every day I remember how fortunate I am, and because of that, that I must give of myself to others in need.
Anything you would like to tell future NYAB members?The NYAB empowers youth to live a life of service. Most importantly, the NYAB makes us realize that service is cool. Doing something for someone else doesn't have to simply be for a college application, a resume or for service hours. Service makes you feel good. It's what being a Christian is about. We should give freely of ourselves as much as we can, and I think the NYAB through the Souper Bowl of Caring is a special way for youth to serve. Take every moment you volunteer as an opportunity to make yourself and those around you better people, and I promise, life will be good because of it.
Final thoughts?Thank you Melissa Daigneault for your friendship and advocacy. Thank you Tracy Bonds Bender for your years of service. And thank you Rev. Dr. Brad Smith for your leadership. Everyone that has met you is a better person because of it!
No, thank YOU, James! Not only for your many years of service on the board, but the years after of being an advocate, answering phone calls on Super bowl Sunday and providing our team with support!