Making connections is an integral part of the membership experience for many involved with the Newton Young Professionals — but that doesn't stop simply with fellow members.

"The NYP's specific mission is to develop or provide young individuals in the community an opportunity to network and an opportunity to get involved and give back to the community," said NYP President Scott Winter. "I feel like that's an important part that we need to continue within the community — passing on not only the fun that we have when we get together but also the respect we have for our community and just how we can give back with what we've been given."

Involvement within the Newton community for the NYP has taken the form of several service projects over the years — like the regular Sand Creek Clean-Up days, with the most recent taking place this week.

Having adopted a stretch of Sand Creek along Fifth Street several years ago, the NYP meets up a few times each year for regular maintenance/sanitation of the banks along the creek, trying to make it something residents are more likely to utilize.

"Whoever is available comes out and we put on gloves, grab trash bags and basically just go up and down the banks and pick up litter and trash and all sorts of things that may or may not be unmentionable at times," Winter said. "That way the people who are enjoying everything don't have a bunch of nasty trash and litter to look at."

"Part of our core (mission) is to make sure that we're giving back to the community, making the community a better place, and this is one of the ways that we do that," said NYP council member Staci Vermillion. "This is obviously a public space that we want to keep nice and it's just a tangible way to actually do something that's worth it for Newton and the area."

Other ways the NYP has gotten involved in the community include adopting a couple of families each Christmas season through local Angel Tree projects, helping put on the Treasure Egg Hunt at KidFest, participating in the annual Halloween walk and more.

For both Winter and Vermillion, there has been plenty to enjoy about those experiences getting out and having an impact on the community — not least of which is seeing what a difference those efforts can make, whether setting an example for the next generation or helping those truly in need.

"I really have enjoyed doing the stuff at Christmastime," Vermillion said. "We can have a visual that this is someone that is actually benefitting from us being an organization. I just think that was really neat to go and shop for the kids and see ... this is a family that's going to have something better because we were in existence."

Seeing that kind of payoff firsthand is something Winter also enjoys and brings his membership full circle. While both Winter and Vermillion are aware the NYP is marketed towards a specific demographic, they were quick to point out the numerous opportunities that exist to get involved in the community and encouraged others to take that under consideration.

"Just find somewhere to get involved, to be able to do something that's good for your community," Vermillion said.

"I think the underlying theme to me is we're all in this together. We're all in this life together, we're all in this community together and the more we can serve others, ultimately, the more we can serve ourselves," Winter said. "I think when people see others serving it's kind of motivation to make them want to serve and ultimately that builds a stronger community, which ultimately attracts more people to it; that's really what we want to leave as far as a legacy for future generations."