On Day of Service, I helped repack food and supplies at Food Bank for New York City. My group was specifically in charge of isolating fruits, protein, and cereal products. Before packing, however, we were shown a video identifying New York City’s lack of food security for all people and how this food bank directly changed that by providing free healthy meals for people in need.
During the incredibly stressful week of tech for the musical, “Into the Woods,” it was incredibly helpful to step back for a day and recognize how privileged I am to have access to a hot healthy meal everyday and then do something to directly start changing the inequalities in our city community. Although theater can and has had a profound social change, it was invigorating to take on a different job that guarantees immediate positive change.
This year, I assisted in calling and writing notes to Friends Seminary alumni in regards to donating to this year’s Annual Fund. Of course,
receiving a donation from someone you had recently called felt rewarding since it gave me a chance to give back to the community which gives me access to my community which offers me an education, is open to my many complaints, and allows me to perform in a professional setting. However, the most interesting part of this seemingly-awkward task to me was hearing what Friends Seminary alumni were doing today.
After dialing the first number, I was greeted by a friendly voice regarding his law office which I realized was a voicemail mid-response. After the beep and an awkward voicemail, I proceeded to consider this man’s life. At one point or another, he lived day to day under the same roof, taking the same classes, with some of the same teachers I am now. After dialing more numbers, I realized that all of these people had once led extremely similar lives yet somehow spread to all different jobs of the world.
While calling and writing to more alumni, I kept bringing my attention to the fact that they were once Friends students like me and that one day a future student could be calling me. Hearing the questions alumni had about Friends today led me to wonder how Friends will evolve in the future. How would the life of that future Friends Seminary student; a most-likely stressed, tired, determined, and service-credit-needing (and service enjoying) person be different from the one I lead today. If they’re having a bad day, will their go-to place be the new art piece Friends is planning on displaying. I look forward to hearing about the future of Friends and thinking back to this service experience.
In the Youth Philanthropy Initiative, I learned several important lessons about working in a group on a long term project. Firstly, communication is a key element when working with others. While preparing our presentation, some group members changed work or went ahead without telling their teammates which led to awkward and time consuming debates on what ideas to keep or remove. This led to the need for compromise from everyone because every part of the project is someone’s hard work but not everyone might agree with it.
When one person did a lot of work individually, other teammates, including myself began to do less since they felt that their work was not needed. However, at the end of the project I realized that it was my project too and that I needed to give my opinion if I wanted anything I didn’t agree with to change.
Most of all though, I learned that every issue, no matter how helpless and disturbing the numbers (like those of suicide) may seem, can be prevented. Our organization, the Samaritans targets common issues such as a lack of education that lead people to commit suicide and works on those to make sure as many suicides as possible are prevented.
A problem we encountered throughout the project was that our organization is a crisis hotline focused organization and is completely hidden. They don’t keep track of records and they do not have an open site to visit. This left us at a disadvantage since we couldn’t learn as much about our organization as we wanted and couldn’t show clear statistics for our non-profit. However, I’m glad that we raised awareness about this great group. The fact is that so many people, especially high school students seriously consider suicide and the small bit of help the Samaritans gives really saves lives.