Jack’s Experience with Empty Bowls

Earlier this year, I worked at an Ice Cream Social for Empty Bowls, a student run organization, which was partnered with Share our Strength.  Share our Strength is an organization that focuses on ending child hunger in America. During this event, people bought bowls that were made by volunteers in Empty Bowls and were served ice cream, and could also buy styrofoam bowls for a lower price. The proceeds made in this event went to Share our Strength. After the Ice Cream Social, Josh Wachs, Chief Strategy Officer for Share our Strength, made a speech about how school meals help hungry children in New York and how they provide services to feed these children during the summer. He also presented a film made by Share our Strength, called A Place At The Table.

At the Ice Cream Social, I helped kids who had bought bowls put toppings on their ice cream. I also served ice cream as well, and I assisted in cleaning up after the event. At this event, I learned valuable information about child hunger in New York City, and I got to help Empty Bowls and Share our Strength.

Brock’s Service Reflection

A couple of month’s ago I partook in the Martin Luther King Jazz Concert. The MLK Jazz Concert is a performance that aims to help the Friends Shelter. The concert has been around for at least twenty years and is basically run by Bob Rosen. The concert was a great success. There’s nothing like playing music for a good cause! Jazz 1 opened the show with a few tunes. We played well and got to talk to a few of the experienced players. After us, the Meeting House Big Band performed and they were truly amazing! It was great to see Bob playing. I was very glad to help out in preventing homelessness. It really sucks to see people without homes on the street. It’s great that Friend’s does their share in aiding this cause by providing fourteen warm bed’s.

Friendship Circle Summer Camp

Submitted by Nell, Jane and Laura:

“Stewardship is a coming together of our major testimonies.”  At least that is what John Woolman thought—even though he said these words all the way back in1770, they still hold true today.  His words challenged us to think about  the ways that we actually live the testimonies through the relationships we have with others. How can the testimonies that are so much a part of our Quaker education be manifested through stewardship?

We decided to spend  a part of our summer working with a population that is often marginalized—a group of human beings whose light often is not admired—though it should be. We decided to work with autistic children through the organization Friendship Circle.

Overview of Program:

This summer we volunteered at the Friendship Circle Summer camp for one week. The Friendship Circle is an organization that strives to help children with autism by creating opportunities for them to interact with others through educational and fun activities. The organization utilizes teenage volunteers who help run these programs and act as counselors who encourage the children to participate in them. During the year, the Friendship Circle offers weekend programs such as the Sunday Circle and Friends At Home to continue to help these children during the school year.  Click on the links to learn more about the programs they offer.  The summer camp we volunteered at was five and a half days long and consisted of various activities in art, cooking, sports and music. We also went on a two trips to the Intrepid and an arcade! Each volunteer was assigned to a child with autism and helped them throughout the week. By the end of the camp we all had bonded with our “special friends” and made a real connection with them.

Nell with Justina and Julia on a toy boat at the Intrepid

Nell with Justina and Julia on a toy boat at the Intrepid

Nell:  Going into the Friendship Circle camp I was a little unsure of what to expect because I had never volunteered with kids with autism before. I found out about the program through the Oblivion where it was listed under summer community service. After meeting my buddy and doing some arts and crafts, I really was amazed at how well we both interacted. My buddy really enjoyed soccer, dancing and music and felt great helping her through these programs. She also loved going to the Intrepid museum and interacting with the exhibits. After the camp ended I felt like I really accomplished something great and helped someone who really needed it. My buddy and I were able to interact and learn from each other which was an interesting experience. Overall, I really enjoyed the program because I was able to gain a new perspective and learn more about autism.

Jane and Justina pose for a picture

Jane and Justina pose for a picture

Jane:  I was nervous when I arrived at the Friendship Circle camp on Sunday. I wasn’t sure what my experience for the next five and a half days would be like because I had never worked with an autistic person before. However, after Justina and I met, talked and did an art project together I had a better sense of what it is to be autistic. Although autistic people have a hard time connecting with others, it is not impossible. That was shown to me in the times she would take me dancing around the room (she loved dancing) or when we would work on an art project. We also has a great time at the Intrepid together, as shown in the first four pictures.  It was a great experience to learn about autism, and how, over time, an autistic teen can learn to connect with others.  I learned a lot from Justina, and I would recommend working at the Friendship Circle for a fulfilling experience working with peers of a similar age but with totally different life experiences.


Julia and Laura with a plane.

Julia and Laura with a plane.

Laura:  I first heard of Friendship Circle through the non-profit day at Friends last year.  I volunteered at their Sunday Circle program on Sundays during the school year, and the director encouraged me to be a counselor in her camp. As it turned out, Jane and Nell had heard about the opportunity as well, so it was great to have Friends well represented!  On the first day, I was extremely excited to meet my “special friend.” All I knew was that her name was Julia and she wore glasses.  When I finally met her, I realized that I knew her from volunteering at Sunday Circle.  She seemed to recognize me, but kept on repeating “I’m being shy.”  However, throughout the week I got to know Julia better as we did fun activities like art, water sports, and baking. Soon, she opened up, and when she said that she was being shy, I was able to reply, “Don’t worry, you’re not being shy Julia!” One of the highlights of my time volunteering was our trip to the Intrepid.  It was amazing how Julia’s eyes lit up when she could interact with exhibits and make her signature peace sign pose in all of the pictures I took.  Oddly enough, my other most memorable moment with Julia was when she threw a tantrum at the end of the day because she didn’t want to go home.  It was stressful in the moment because she was screaming and I had to figure out a way to convince her to leave. I had never seen her cry before! However, I realized afterwards she was upset about leaving because we had had a really great time together.  And it dawned on me that it was difficult for me to say goodbye too. I had learned so much from her and it was her light that allowed me to see so much about myself and my place in the world. So I hope I can keep in contact with Julia at Sunday Circles throughout the year!

Julia's signature peace sign.

Julia’s signature peace sign.



Soren’s service reflection Indian Brook Summer Camp

In the summer of 2012, I went to Indian Brook summer camp for girls. This camp focuses on being environmentally conscious. We try to use only what we need. We also have service trips. There is a farm service trip and a trail service trip. They are five days each and we work for five to six hours for three of those days. On the first day we cleared a new hiking path on one of the mountains near the camp. We cleared leaves, branches, and made it much easier for people to hike there. We ended up making a really nice new trail. On the second day we tried to fix an already existing trail. The path was unusable because of how dangerous it was. There were a lot of roots and rocks in the way that people had tripped on and gotten hurt. We cleared it so that it could be used again. Now it is a nice frequently used hiking trail. On the third day we hiked to a stream and did tests to see if it was healthy. We collected samples of the kinds of bugs were living in it so we could see how the water could support life.
Going to this camp has really helped me get involved with service. I really enjoyed going on this trip and helping out with something that would have taken a long time to get done without us. Now more hiking trips can be arranged because we made new paths that are safe for adults and children. It felt great to be able to do something that would benefit the entire Farm and Wilderness Community.

Delivering Gifts to the Elderly with Visiting Neighbors

This winter, the students of Friends Seminary made bags to hold gifts to be delivered to the elderly. While we all participated in the bag-making, some of us continued on to go with Friends to the headquarters of the organization, Visiting Neighbors, to help deliver the gifts. The project was called ELFIN’.

There, the bags decorated by Friends students were filled with gifts, and volunteers were paired up and assigned an elderly person to deliver the bag to. Because the first person that I was assigned to would not be home at the time, I requested a second person. I wanted to be able to make a connection with the people, and, selfishly, I also wanted to be able to see their faces when they received their gifts.
It was a long walk to both of their separate houses, and the whole journey took about three and a half hours. It was on a school night, and as it got to be 7:00 I was getting hungry and I wanted to go home. That all changed, though, when I reached the first person’s house. Although the person to whom the gift was intended was not home, his caretaker’s eyes lit up because she was so happy that he would be getting a gift for the holidays. The second elderly person was home, and she was also very grateful for the bag of gifts. It felt great to make these other people happy, and I enjoyed making their holidays brighter. Since the holidays mean a lot to me, it felt right to bring some of the cheer from the outside in to someone who is too weak to get outside a lot. Visiting Neighbors offers programs throughout the year and will pair volunteers with senior citizens near them. Visit their website.

Jack’s Experience with the MDGs

This year in History class, my grade learned about the Millennium Development Goals and the Millennium Villages Project. The Millennium Development Goals were eight goals set by the UN in 2000 in order to reduce poverty in the developing world. The goals are to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat AIDS/HIV and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability, and create global partnership for development. The UN and many other organizations devoted to the MDGs have made great progress in reducing poverty worldwide. One of the other organizations that works on the MDGs is the Millennium Villages Project. They have created villages in areas of extreme poverty in Africa and helped them achieve the MDGs in their communities. While we studied the MDGs and the MVPs, we learned about the Kisyoro school, an all girls school in Africa. We sent messages to the students through the Internet, and many of us got replies. We also learned about how different going to school is here and how it is in the developing world.
Some of the students in my grade were very touched by learning about all of this, and they decided to act on what they had learned. They set up a screening for the movie Girl Rising as a fundraiser to pay for a girl’s tuition at the Kisyoro school. They used what we had learned while studying the MDGs and they presented the film to an audience. I feel as though the film expressed how important going to school is for girls in the developing world, and it expanded on what I had already learned through studying the MDGs and the MVPs. It also connected the things I had learned about to real people and their stories, which made the whole experience very meaningful.


Emma’s History Reflection Blog

In History Class this year, my classmates and I had several units in which we researched and wrote papers on the Millennium Development Goals and Millennium Promise. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight international development goals that were established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000, following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration. All 193 United Nations member states as well as at least 23 international organizations have agreed to achieve these goals by 2015. Millennium Promise is a non-profit organization dedicated to ending extreme poverty. Its flagship initiative, Millennium Villages, is an organization formed to highlight how integrated, community-led development, even in some of the poorest communities across rural sub-Saharan Africa, can lead to progress in achieving the MDGs.

I found researching the Millennium Development Goals and The Millennium Promise to be a really fascinating and rewarding experience. Not only was I able to learn all about these wonderful initiatives to end poverty, but by having a direct connection with the Kysoro School in Uganda, I was able to see how these initiatives are affecting the world today and meet some truly remarkable girls. I feel that I now have a better understanding of the most prominent issues that are taking shape around the world along with what specifically is being done to ensure that they diminish dramatically. I am now able to pass on this new knowledge and become better involved in the poverty initiatives that are taking shape across the globe in a way that I never could have in past years, given that I was less informed. Once you engage in an interactive experience, like the voice threads between the Kysoro school, it becomes more than an “End Poverty” campaign. It is a way to meet people and understand through real relationships what is actually like to live in rural regions of Africa, where most of the MDGs are centered around.

Hudson’s Service Reflection on the Kisyoro School Collaboration

This year we talked to a Friends school in Ruhiira, Uganda. We first talked to the all girls school about free time. We talked about soccer, and other things we did in our free time. The fact that they go to school and do not see their family for long periods of time struck me the most. We take our family and education for granted. They however, put their education in front of their family. I mentioned the horrors of Superstorm Sandy, and the effects on it. I included pictures of not only the aftermath, but the pictures of Friends students helping out. To my surprise, they said it was uncommon for people to help others that were not friends or family. I thought that because they lived in such a small and remote place, the community would be extremely tightly knit as well, but I was proved wrong. At Friends, we are brought up with the idea that helping others is universal, but when you are in no better shape then your neighbor, it is understandable to see the role that circumstances play.



Jack’s Experience Screening Girl Rising

Recently, as part of service learning project in my history class on the MDGs and gender equality and education, the students screened the movie, Girl Rising, on our campus as an advocacy effort. Wev wanted more people to learn what we had. It was a movie that showed what the world is like for girls in the world. It portrayed a dark reality where school was a luxury that most girls only dreamed about, and many young girls had to deal with harsh things such as marriage, working as a slave, and struggling to survive on the streets.
One of my favorite stories was that of a young girl named Wadely. Wadely was a young girl in Haiti who was trying to reconstruct her life after the earthquake. She and her mother were poor, and every day Wadely would go on a long walk to a fountain and come back home with a heavy bucket full of water. One day she realized the school she went to before the earthquake had reopened. Wadely tried to go back to the school, but she could not stay because her mother could not pay the tuition. Still, Wadely came back after she was sent away, and told the teacher that she would come back every day. The teacher then decided to let Wadely stay. I enjoyed this story because it showed that determination and persistence are very important qualities.
Overall, Girl Rising was a very good movie. It showed how having girls in school can affect the world for the better. Its stories were all very thought provoking and emotional, and it was all very well structured. I would recommend Girls Rising to anyone who wants to learn about making a lasting impact on the world.

Emma’s work with the Green School’s Alliance

The Green School’s Alliance has been an organization for five years. Its goal is to motivate, educate and connect school communities toward greater environmental action and sustainable practice. All participating schools take a pledge that they will reduce their carbon footprint by 30% in five years. There are resource fairs, lectures, curriculum sharing, as well as political initiatives, such as “Ban the Bag.” My father is the coordinator of the New York chapter and a founding member of the GSA. If you visit their website, http://www.greenschoolsalliance.org/, you will find that the small picture next to the description of the High School “Bag It” contest is of me with a bunch of plastic bags! The school I attended before Friends, The Town School, co-hosted a sustainability conference on April 20th. Million Trees is a sustainability initiative by Mayor Bloomberg, in which he pledged that the city would plant one million trees before the end of his term. So far, we have planted more than 650,000! Steps that Friends as a school can take are becoming members of the GSA, getting involved environmentally with other schools in the city, attending events like Bag It, Ban the Bag and Million Trees, and virtually sharing our experiences via Facebook, Twitter, the blog on their website or Friends S.H.O.U.T!

Volunteering with Million Trees has become a very important part of my life. Every year, I go with my parents and friends to eat, discuss and plant for three to four hours on a given saturday in April. The work is always really fun and rewarding. There is no age limitation, I have encountered people from ages 3 to 83 at these events. There are compost bins everywhere and food provided. In between digging and planting, it is always so interesting to talk to the environmental workers at the site. They know so much about the project and offer advice and tips about how you can be sustainable every day. I wish I could post some pictures of me, but sadly, there were none taken this year. The pictures attached clearly display the site as well as some of the kids who plant.kids at million treesMillion Trees Logo

I would love to see some people from Friends at this event next year!