Lily Weisberg’s Service Reflection – The Robin Hood Foundation

Early this summer, Johanna Zwirner, Sahana Mehta, and I, along with other kids from schools all around the city, embarked on a week long fellows program and research project at The Robin Hood Foundation. Robin Hood is an incredible organization that uses 100% of its generous donations to fund charities and non-profits  in order to end poverty across New York City.

Our first day at Robin Hood, we met the other kids and some of the staff, and were introduced to the project we would be doing. The energy at Robin Hood was instantly recognizable. Everyone working there was so clearly passionate about the foundation and the issues it addresses. It was wonderful to be surrounded by such inspired and motivated people. After meeting the staff, we were organized into 4 groups and we were each assigned an organization. We would be meeting and interviewing the social change makers responsible for these organizations (all ones that Robin Hood financially supports). The groups did in-depth research on the organization and prepared questions for our interviews. The first group met with Charles King, the founder of Housing Works. He spoke about what Housing Works does, how he started it, and why AIDS was such an important issue to him. The second person we met was Dr. Charles Marmar, who runs the NYU clinic for veterans. The clinic helps veterans and their families get back to normal, which can be incredibly challenging due to high rates of post-war PTSD and depression. On the third day we met Nisha Agarwal, who works on immigration reform for New York City. After watching a short film about immigration reform in the US, prior to meeting with Nisha Agarwal, the entire group of fellows became really interested and curious about the issue, which made it fascinating for everyone. On the fourth day, my group interview Dr. Michael Carrera who runs the Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program, a part of Children’s Aid Society. Dr. Carrera is the most wonderful speaker I have ever heard. He was so articulate, clear, and engaged while we were interviewing him. His energy and passion for what he does was more than obvious and inspiring. Dr. Carrera keeps at-risk teens busy (as he puts it) in order to prevent adolescent pregnancies. He calls it “pregnancy prevention from the waist up” – meaning, although there is an available sex-ed class for the kids to take, the objective is more to keep teens busy and engaged in school and learning, so they do not have sex out of boredom.

Thursday night, we worked late putting together a presentation about our interview. We made a short film with parts of our conversation with Dr. Carrera as a voice over. Friday, every group presented their presentation to parents, Robin Hood investors, and the staff.

I had an amazing experience at Robin Hood. I learned about issues and organizations I am interested in, met incredible people who work so hard to make social change, and had a great time doing it.

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Lunch after our final interview (Johanna left, Sahana right)

Beatrice Findlay’s Summer Service

This summer, I volunteered at the East Hampton Public Library.  The East Hampton Library’s purpose is to provide information, knowledge and reading needs for the community of East Hampton and to help maintain the Long Island Collection for historical research .  The library is home to over hundreds of books with a large range of genres.  At the library, I shelved, shifted, and labeled books as well as adopt the young adult section to take care of while I worked there.  I also volunteered to help with the library’s annual children’s book fair, where the entire community comes and attends.  There I helped run the booths and the outside attractions. I also helped my fellow volunteers by getting them food and drink or taking over when they got tired.  The East Hampton Library is a place where it brings together the community in a sense of learning.

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I loved working both at the fair and at the library.  This experience helped to give me more of an understanding of community before I volunteered.  It showed me how everyone can come together to help build something great, while expecting nothing in return.  The library receives volunteers to help manage everything, both children and adults.  It is a place where people of all ages can come and learn.  To me it also represents a sort of history and family, where children will come to the library to learn or read and someday their children and their grandchildren can come to the library.  I found this experience really gratifying and hope to make a tradition of volunteering there.

Petra’s Summer Service

This past summer I spent the beginning of August at my house in the northern Catskills. For as long as we have had a house there we have been supporting a place called Heather Ridge Farm ( that raises free-range animals, produces honey from bees, and serves lunch on the weekends. This summer was the first time I was able to help out the owner of the farm, an extraordinary woman named Carol Clements. Carol raises sheep, goats, chickens, cows, geese, turkey, and lamas. The farm is run year long by herself, her husband, and two interns who are preparing to own their owns farms one day. From day I arrived to the day I said goodbye, I was put to work feeding the chickens and pigs, herding the goats and sheep, bottle feeding lambs, giving shots and vitamins to baby goats, packing sheep into trucks to be driven to the slaughter house, setting up field fencing, gathering the chickens’ eggs, painting chairs for a fundraising dinner, and pulling weeds in the flower and vegetable gardens.  There was never a time while it was still light out when anybody on the farm didn’t have a duty. The interns who worked there were very kind to have accepted me as fifteen year old city girl who never worked on a farm in a day in her life. They taught me a lot about the animals and plants we were taking care of and how such a farm operates. Not only did the experience introduce me to new smells and methods of agriculture but it also made me realize the strong dependency that the animals had on us and how dependent we were on them.

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Rachel Wolchok’s Summer Service

All year round “Swim Across America” hosts swimming marathons from California to New York, in indoor and outdoor pools, in order to raise funds for cancer research. Swim Across America is an organization that allows people to swim for the cause of defeating cancer and raising money for research centers, labs, and hospitals. This past summer, I volunteered not as a swimmer, but a beach runner for the swimmers. This entails helping the swimmer out of the water, bringing them a towel, and a bottle of water. This ensures that the swimmer is safe after swimming either 15, 10, 5, or 1 k.

I love volunteering for this organization because your work is greatly appreciated by the swimmers and the gratitude is immediate. Swim Across America is a great cause and raised over $1 million this summer alone. Hopefully, I will be able to also kayak alongside a swimmer to make sure they do not have an emergency while swimming.

Giles Lemmon’s summer of Service

This summer, I had the pleasure of volunteering at Sail Newport.  Sail newport is a public access sailing program located in Newport, Rhode island.  This program has the goal of providing access to sailing programs to a variety of ages.  The kids start around age six, and Sail newport offers advances programs for people up to age 18, the maximum age allowed to sail in local regattas.  This organization is unique in that area, in that it offers sailing programs while not connected to a Yacht club.  This means that anyone can learn to sail, without being members of a Yacht club.  As most of the children’s parents do not know how to sail, this program gets them out on the water.  Sailing is one of the worlds most enjoyable sports, and this program offers access to it for those who might not otherwise be able to have it.

During the summer, I assisted instructors in teaching smaller children.  They were not beginners, having sailed for approximately two years.  As a result, they were learning slightly more advances material.  I assisted in teaching them the correct sailing technique.  On multiple occasions, I demonstrated the correct way to tack the boat, among other skills, much to their amusement, as I barely fit into the tiny 5 foot long boat.  Working with sail newport was a highly rewarding experience.  Last summer, I also helped here, and this summer, I was able to expand upon my experience from last year.  Teaching younger children the correct technique was very rewarding. I really enjoyed this summer, and I really hope that I can return next summer