DANBURY — A local youth volunteer program is one of a few across the United States and Canada to be recognized with a top honor.

The Youth Volunteer Corps program through United Way of Western Connecticut has been named a Gold Level program for the fifth year in a row. It is one of 14 of these types of programs to be recognized.

Youth Volunteer Corps, which started in Kansas City in 1987 and has since spread across the country and to Canada, aims to encourage youth to be dedicated to giving back, according to its website.

The organization’s headquarters gives the Gold Level rating to groups that “serve as stand-out examples for how the program can serve its community,” United Way said.

The program has consistently achieved this award under the leadership of Morgan Browne, who has been involved in the initiative since 2013 and has been director since 2016.

Last year, 140 youth, ages 11 to 18, from across the Danbury area conducted services projects that benefit nonprofits, parks, senior centers and food pantries. In the coming year, the plan is to work with more than 30 agencies on projects related to compassionate communities, healthy lifestyles, arts, culture and education, United Way said.

Two volunteers, Ridgefield resident Emma Kiernan and Danbury resident Connor Parille, also received the Ethic of Service award for completing 500 hours of service with the program. Both serve on the organization’s Youth Advisory Board.

“I have had the opportunity to work with Emma and Connor since 2014 and feel very lucky to have watched them learn, grow, and inspire,” Browne said. “Both Emma and Connor have had a huge impact on our community, their peers, and me.”

Lisa Parille, Connor’s mother, said her son has worked on a farm, restored tombstones and packed food for families in need thanks to the program.

“From a parental perspective, he pretty much has had all sorts of opportunities that we could never have provided, and that has definitely enriched his life,” she said.