Since the start of 2017, we have featured a volunteer of the month that provides exemplary service to his/her community. Volunteers are nominated by agencies or community groups and we share their stories and hope that they will inspire others to get involved in their own community. This month, for the first time, we are thrilled to honor a group, our six senior interns from Darien, New Canaan, and Stamford High Schools. These six seniors have spent the last four weeks volunteering all over Fairfield County, doing outreach and taking over our social media for 25-30 hours a week.
On May 15th and 16th, I had the pleasure of holding intern orientation for Annie Wright and Kat Heaney (Darien HS), Sakshi Patel and DongZhi Guo (Westhill HS) and Ellery Baran and Spencer DeVito (New Canaan HS). We gathered in the conference room at our borrowed office space and brainstormed about the weeks ahead. These six students are part of a program at their schools that allow seniors to spend the last 4-5 weeks of school at an internship instead of going to class. Students are expected to spend 25-30 hours a week at their internship. Each student came with ideas about what they wanted to gain from their internship. They were interested in volunteering at nonprofit organizations and doing outreach in their towns. In addition, they were each assigned a town page on our website to manage with the other intern from their high school. They worked in pairs to research volunteer opportunities and events to upload to their pages. They took photographs at all their volunteer assignments and wrote reflection blog posts at the end of each week.
Following the orientation, the interns jumped right into their assignments. They were assigned weekly volunteer shifts at Person-to-Person in Darien for the duration of their internship. They worked in the clothing closet and had the opportunity to interact with clients. Each week they shared how meaningful and impactful their experiences were at P2P through their weekly reflections.
By the end of the first week the New Canaan, Darien, and Stamford pages were being filled with opportunities, photos, and short blogs. As they settled into their roles as VS interns, they began to propose ideas about what they wanted to do. Spencer and Ellery volunteered at Audubon Greenwich, assisting with gardening work and following an educator for a day. Sakshi and DongZhi were interested in animals and so they spent some time volunteering with STARelief and Pet Assistance as their prepared for the Doggy Day
Their contributions to Volunteer Square continued as well. They took over our Instagram and Snapchat and in just 48 hours we gained close to 200 new Snapchat followers and over 50 new Instagram followers. They shared photos and anecdotes from each volunteer experience on both social media pages. They created a flyer for outreach and made lists of places they would go in their towns to hang flyers and talk about Volunteer Square. Each week they exceeded expectations and in the month of May, we registered over 90 new volunteers to the site, all due to their outreach.
As we enter week five I'm amazed at the impact these six young people have had, not only on Volunteer Square but also the other organizations they worked with as part of their internship. Their dedication to learning, making a difference and inspiring others is truly incredible. On behalf of Volunteer Square and the organizations they've volunteered with, we thank you and wish you the best in your next chapter - Annie (University of Florida), Kat (Union College), DongZhi (Boston University), Sakshi (Rutgers University), Ellery (Purdue University) and Spencer (University of Vermont).