Many Connecticut high schools have started a senior internship program that allows seniors the opportunity to spend the last 4 weeks of the school year interning at a local company. Volunteer Square is proud to host senior interns annually and this year we are proud to honor our 2018 senior interns, Frank Leiva and Cole Judkins, as our June Volunteers of the Month. Frank (Westhill HS) and Cole (Norwalk HS) spent four weeks from the end of May to mid-June, representing Volunteer Square by volunteering all over Fairfield County, doing volunteer outreach and recruitment and managing town pages on our website for 30 hours a week.
At the start of their internship, I asked Cole and Frank what they were hoping to gain from this experience. They are both seeking business degrees in college and were very interested in learning the day to day workings of Volunteer Square. I was thrilled that they wanted to know how our organization operates and the ways we are able to reach volunteers and nonprofit agencies across Connecticut. We spent a lot of time going over how Volunteer Square is run and I asked for their critical feedback about our business. Cole and Frank had a lot of questions and said that they are excited to use what they learned in their future studies.
Additionally, they interested in how the organization was started and had the opportunity to spend 2 hours with Volunteer Square Founder, Ned Brokaw and ask many questions about his inspiration and journey starting Volunteer Square. They left that meeting feeling very inspired and excited to think about their own businesses that they will hopefully run some day. One of the things that they were looking forward to the most was in the final week of the internship when we went to Wallingford, CT for the day to meet with ISG Software, the company who built and manages our website. I promised them an educational and interesting meeting with ISG and they were not disappointed. They couldn't stop talking about all they learned from our 3-hour meeting!
There were plenty of opportunities to volunteer as well and Frank and Cole choose several agencies to work so they could have a variety of volunteer experiences. They had weekly shifts at Person to Person in Darien working in both the food and clothing closets and at P2P Stamford working on with the mobile food vans, with Frank even filling in for the receptionist at one location where a Spanish speaking volunteer was needed. Frank and Cole also spent two Fridays volunteering at Open Door Shelter where they cooked and served lunch to over 80 people. And they had the opportunity to spend the day at Family Centers where they did outreach to the local community to talk about Family Centers' many programs. Every time they were at a new agency I would receive rave reviews about their work. "Cole and Frank are great kids, hard-working and great enthusiasm. They were always ready to work with a smile!" This was just some of the feedback from their work with P2P.
When they were not volunteering or learning about Volunteer Square, they were out in their communities recruiting volunteers and passing out flyers to local businesses. They also each managed a town page on our website and filled their pages with volunteer opportunities and weekly reflections about their internship experience.
Each week they exceeded expectations and in the four weeks they were with us, we registered over 100 new volunteers to the site, all due to their outreach. Frank and Cole had such an enthusiasm and passion for all the work they did as senior interns. They were eager to learn from each experience they had and made a strong and positive impact on Volunteer Square in just a short time. 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 - Frank (Southern Connecticut State University) and Cole (Goucher College). We know that you will succeed in all you do!