On service day, the 12th grade volunteered at The Million Oyster Project, a non-profit that is based in New York City. The Million Oyster Project is an ecosystem restoration project that is hoping to bring one billion oysters back to the New York Harbor. Oysters have the ability to filter water while also providing habitats for other marine life. Due to pollution, over harvesting and other detrimental human factors, the population of Oysters in the New York Harbor has significantly decreased so that oysters are “functionally extinct”. This non-profit works with schools and volunteers to educate people on the importance of oysters and marine life when preserving an ecosystem. Last week our grade went to Governors Island and participated in two different workshops. My group first started by gathering, washing, and filing away oyster shells that have been gathered by and sent to The Million Oyster Project by restaurants and bars all over the city. This was a cold and somewhat complicated task; however, we made an assembly line and the process went smoothly. In the afternoon, our group helped to assemble metal crates The Million Oyster Project, marine biologists and other students would use to examine and study different oyster species and shells before being returned to the harbor. It was a welcomed change to the colder and more laboring morning task, but equally as important. It was a fun day spent bonding with friends and getting to know more about the importance of not just oysters in our harbor’s ecosystem, but the importance of marine life in general when preserving and protecting our water. I look forward to seeing (and hopefully participating in) more connections between The Million Oyster Project, Friends, and other schools around the city!
This spring was my third participation with the annual Dancers Responding to Aids performance at Friends. I don’t consider myself to be a very good or even remotely trained dancer, but I was encouraged by one of the choreographers and my friend to join one of the dances. I think the true philanthropic nature of the event can potentially be overlooked when engrossed in the beauty of the dances and talent of the dancers. While training and rehearsing for the performance, I was so bogged down by the stress of wanting to do a good job that I managed to forget the primary final goal and end product of such an incredibly successful and moving event such as DRA. The nature of DRA is one that isn’t often found in other schools, and contributes greatly to the uniqueness and singularity of the Friends institution, most specifically the performing arts/dance departments. It wasn’t until the night of the performance that I had pieced together the joy and pleasure of preparing for the show and then performing alongside such incredibly talented people for such an incredibly thoughtful cause. The DRA event at Friends is the perfect harmony of enjoyment, reward and service, making it the pinnacle of successful philanthropy in the Friends community.
Toward’s the beginning of this year I, alongside three other students, visited a Sanctuary for Families location through our club at Friends called Kids Helping Kids. Sanctuary for Families is an organization that works to help children and their families that have been sexually and physically abused, overcome their personal and economic struggles. This was the first year Kids Helping Kids and the Friends Community has been partnered with Sanctuary for Families, and this was my first visit to one of their locations. When we first arrived we were welcomed by two of the directors of Sanctuary for Families and introduced to some other volunteers. We were then asked to assort and arrange different catered food so it was available for the kids and their family upon this arrival. Throughout the night we served food and drinks to the children and kept the older ones occupied while the younger kids watched a production of Peter Pan. I listened to these kids stories and heard about their plans for the future, their schooling and the classic middle school boy drama. At the end of the night I was rewarded with newly formed friendships and an amazing learning experience. Being raised in a middle class family and having the opportunity to go to such a prestigious private school like Friends, I have the unfortunate misperception that my life is perfectly mapped out for me. Having the opportunity to watch these kids and listen to their stories I came to the understanding that life isn’t something to be taken for granted. I’ve lived my life adjusted to a certain standard of living, without much recognition of how other people live. It was eyeopening and very rewarding being able to work with victims of abuse, and gain a better understanding of domestic violence and its impact. Although I am privileged to be in the position I am in life, it’s important for me to recognize those that are less fortunate to grow up in a fully functioning and supportive household such as mine. I’m grateful to my volunteer experience with Sanctuary for Families for helping me do just that.
May 8th, 2014
One thing about Friends Seminary that distinguishes us as a community from other schools throughout New York City is the emphasis that is placed on service and it’s importance. In the past, especially considering the elementary school I attended, there was never much stress on performing charitable or service affiliated acts. However, starting at Friends I was taken out of the bubble surrounding me, and it was brought to my attention the numerous social issues that affect our society daily. Just recently, the ninth grade, on service day, created presentations on charities that focused on a specific social issue present in modern day NYC. The social issues ranged from child homelessness to immigration laws, child illiteracy, and even sex trafficking. Now, what was so shocking and what stood out to me the most, was the statistics provided to those watching the presentations. Each group that presented also covered a different organization, ranging from “Reading Partners”, “GEMS” “Hot Bread Kitchen”, to “ABC”. My group, unfortunately, was not given the opportunity to present our social issue on child abuse. However, I think being able to watch each presentation gave me a new perspective on the state New York City really is in, as well as the most effective way to present these issues. Ultimately, with the majority vote, the GEMS organization won. Without a doubt, GEMS stuck with me, because not only was their topic on sex trafficking such a horrible subject, but also the way it was so thoroughly and effectively presented. This presentation gave me surprising insight as to how big of an issue sex trafficking truly is in New York City. With this newfound knowledge on all the nonprofits presented, I was able to change my conception of local charities, and how in depth and truly effective they are in changing the lives of the thousands of victims they work with. The wide array of social issues also allowed my view on the NYC community to expand, and therefore further my will to continue philanthropic working, as well as educating others and myself on the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative. Through YPI, my fellow group members and I were handed the lovely opportunity to work with and research an influential nonprofit called The Jane Barker Foundation. The Jane Barker Foundation addresses the very prominent issue of child abuse. Researching “Jane Barker”, I found surprising and almost unbelievable statistics on the amount of children affected by child abuse each day, the amount of children under the age of 13 that “Jane Barker” has helped, as well as the cause and effects of domestic and child targeted violence. And while I was unable to go with my group to visit our site, I still feel a particular connection towards my organization and the social issue they focus on; therefore I am hoping to use our connection with YPI and “Jane Barker” to my advantage, and continue my philanthropic work throughout my high school experience. The sort of incorporation and affiliations Friends Seminary and their students are benefitted with, are an essential part in bettering our community in and out of school. The Friends goal by incorporating service as a common part of life, meeting the required service hours as well as attending the many assemblies, provides a very friendly and helpful environment that I value. This particular experience, it being the first service day I ever participated in, gave me insight on social issues and the service needed to be done to improve and better our society, as well as overall achieve Friends Seminary’s ultimate goal.