This past Fall, St. Stephen’s worked with both new and long-term partners to create fun, engaging, and meaningful service days. For many people, the idea of a one time service project can feel like it lacks the long term impact that volunteers hope to bring to organizations through volunteering. At St. Stephen’s, we see these service days as unique opportunities for organizations to come learn about St. Stephen’s, engage in work projects, and most importantly form relationships with our young people and staff, all with the goal of creating a two-way learning opportunity for everyone involved. This fall we hosted three specific days of service which sum up this concept.
Our first project brought with it an amazing group of volunteers from Wellesley College during their Freshman Orientation. Over 20 Wellesley students came to St. Stephen’s and worked with staff to build a new basketball hoop, paint the outdoor maze, four square court and front office, and create wonderful academic resources and posters to help with our program. Students not only participated in service projects, but also met with staff to better understand St. Stephen’s, and learned about the many ways they can get involved during their four years at Wellesley College.
The second project came through our ever-growing partnership with Northeastern University. This year the Clinton Global Initiative University annual meeting was hosted on the Northeastern Campus and brought hundreds of students from all over the world to Boston. This three day conference culminated with a day of service on Sunday, October 15th. St. Stephen’s was selected as one of the host sites for this amazing event. We had almost 200 student and staff volunteers from Northeastern spend their Sunday morning at both our St. Stephen’s and St. Augustine & St. Martin sites. These volunteers engaged in projects led by both SSYP staff and teens. Volunteers painted libraries, offices, and the JCIT 9th grade space. They helped clean up and winterize the gardens at St. Augustine and St. Martin and the Blackstone school, painted inspirational murals that highlighted the themes from the past four years, and even built a brand new folding desk for our teens. The day was summed up in witnessing one of our superstar teens leading a group of 25 volunteers from all over the world in the reorganizing and repainting of the library at St. Stephen’s.
The final service day of the fall was with Loomis Sayles, a new partner this year. The volunteers were from the Women’s Executive Leadership Group, and came with the intention of not only participating in a meaningful service project, but also having a chance to engage in real conversations with staff, teens and our participants. The volunteers took a tour of the building and immediately jumped right into the project of repainting our enrichment center, while simultaneously painting two beautiful murals, (both filled with inspirational quotes) that were inspired and sketched by our Art Specialist Vicky and some of our students. Once they cruised through this project, volunteers jumped into our program and worked with students on homework, read with our students, and engaged in meaningful conversations with young people of all ages. Our volunteers, staff and students all walked away with the feeling that this was a growing partnership with lots of possibilities and hope going forward.
We continue to be interested in learning more about other organizations, corporations, and schools that might be interested in partnering to create an experience that will be meaningful for everyone. If you think that you want to learn more about these different possibilities, please reach out to Jeremy Kazanjian-Amory at Jeremy@ssypboston.org.
By Jeremy Kazanjian-Amory, Sr. Manager of College Access and Success