For the past five years, Avon Old Farms School has hosted/coordinated a special day for its graduating class known as Senior Day. Senior Day provides seniors with an opportunity to get out of the classroom for a day and into the community. Moreover, it promotes camaraderie and gets peers, who would otherwise not get an opportunity to work together during the year, working side by side. This year, on April 19th, 120 students participated in the event and served at two Hartford based elementary schools, helped with rebuilding efforts through ServCorps and the remaining helped out on the campus of Avon Old Farms.
Hands On Hartford coordinated the service component for 60 of the 120 seniors at the two elementary schools: Fred D. Wish and Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary schools. A group of 30 students were sent to each school for approximately a half day. The majority of the students was placed in classrooms and assisted the teachers. The student volunteers even ate their lunch with their assigned class.
Because literacy has become a focal point for Avon Old Farms, a group of students were also placed in the library where some of them had an opportunity to read to students. Additionally, to further promote literacy, Avon Old Farms donated books to all of the classrooms and to the libraries at both schools. Although the student volunteers were busy in the classrooms, there was time built in for athleticism and fun. A small group of seniors, who were stationed in the gym, brought their Lacrosse equipment and demonstrated the sport to some of the children. The demonstration was a bit hit with the students.
The day was enjoyed not only by the staff/students at the schools but also by the students of Avon Old Farms. One of the students, Dan, summarizes the sentiments shared by many of his peers when he says, “Going into Hartford to the Wish school was not on the “top of the list” of things I had in mind for that day. However, after seeing what these kids were dealing with and how much happiness that one day we spent there gave them, it really opened my eyes to another world, and I had a great time.” The day was so impactful to some, that one senior has asked to return to the school where he was placed to build on the connection he made with the students and teacher in his assigned class for the month of June.
Hands On Hartford Community Engagement Program Manager
When KPMG asked Hands On Hartford to coordinate a customized service project for its consultants working on the campus of Northeast Utilities back in January, we had no idea that it would lead to monthly service projects. Since January’s service project, we’ve coordinated events for employees in March and April with a fourth in the pipeline for the month of May.
In an effort to further promote team building and camaraderie KPMG has invited employees from Oracle (who also work on the Northeast Utilities campus) to join them monthly at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School (MLK) or service projects. During the months of March and April a group of approximately 11 (both occasion) have met Hands On Hartford’s Community Engagement staff at MLK schools for “after hours” service projects that have primarily consisted of painting/muraling.
The employee volunteers have unofficially taken ownership of the gym’s wing. They have transformed a hallway of white walls into an uplifting & cheerful space of action figures demonstrating “sports related activities,” such as swimming, basketball, baseball and tennis. Moreover, they have embedded inspirational words on the walls that range from teamwork to commitment. In addition to the sports related images in the gym’s wing, the employee volunteers also replicated a mural of a tiger reading under a tree (that they created back in January in the parent/teachers classroom) in the lobby area. The mural encompasses the tiger, which is the mascot of the school as well as the core principals of both the school and KPMG.
When the team created the original mural back in January, the principal of the school was so impressed, that he wanted the same mural placed in an area where everyone could see and appreciate it. Hence, KPMG did just that! The employee volunteers have also painted random walls, an office in dire need of painting, and have assisted with stenciling room numbers outside of classrooms. The employees are truly interested in helping where the need is greatest and welcome all projects, no matter how big or small. Additionally, they are also committed to working side by side with members of the community and during their last service project worked in conjunction with parent volunteers.
Hands On Hartford Community Engagement Program Mangager
On April 26th, 12 employees from IBM, many of whom work remotely in various parts of New England, converged at MLK School for a half-day of service and team building experience. The employees were greeted by members of our Community Engagement team and Dr. Lawes, the Assistant Principal of the school. The 12 employees were broken into two groups; 8 of them tackled painting the gym and the remaining 4 conducted a panel on technology/IBM. The employees did rotate projects so that many of them were able to participate in both activities. Prior to IBM sprucing up the gymnasium, the space was uninspiring. The walls were painted a beige hue and had been gone unpainted for many years. The gym is now a soft powder blue and the space has come alive.
Upstairs in the library, the panelists hosted 3 sessions for students ranging from 2nd-5th graders. Approximately 60 students benefitted from the presentation. The sessions were similar to Jr. Achievement in that the employees talked about their company, jobs and answered the students’ questions. Some of the students inquired about career options for themselves and whether they’d need to go to college in order to have certain careers. The employee volunteers spiced things up a bit by distributing prizes. They pulled names and gave out prizes ranging from t-shirts to animal shaped flash drives. Towards the end of the service project, the team gathered in the gym for a reflection led by our AmeriCorps. The volunteers were pleasantly surprised when a group of students entered the gym, led by their gym teachers with, poster boards that read “Thank you for painting our gym.” The students and gym teachers were pleased with the outcome and the students promised to keep the newly painted walls looking good for a long time to come.
Hands On Hartford Community Engagement Program Manager
Thank you to everyone who walked or donated to support Hands On Hartford in Foodshare’s 28th Annual Walk Against Hunger on Sunday, May 1st!
It was the perfect day to enjoy a 3-mile Walk Against Hunger in Hartford’s historic West End. Over 4,000 individuals were there the day of the Walk, raising over $538,000 for Foodshare and benefitting agencies.
All of the money that was raised to benefit Hands On Hartford, will go to our MANNA programs. These funds will go to purchase food which will then be distributed to the individuals and families we serve.
It’s not too late to donate to this cause. Foodshare will be accepting donations through May 19th.
If you would like to donate to benefit Hands On Hartford, you can mail a check to Foodshare or donate online to a Hands On Hartford team.
Make checks payable to “Walk Against Hunger” and send to Foodshare, 450 Woodland Ave, Bloomfield CT 06002 (Make sure you include a copy of your walk registration form, so we credit the right person, team, and agency)
Clanking, cards shuffling, laughter, and enticing conversations; these are some of the sounds that were heard this past Friday at the MANNA soup kitchen. The atmosphere was lively and despite the lack of sunshine the past few days, everyone was in good spirits. Was it because half the city was taking the day off, making the city resemble a quiet suburb? Was it because people only had a few more days to resist the temptation of doing what they gave up for lent? Or was it because it was Friday, the day that many look forward to once Monday comes around? Whatever the reason, Good Friday resembled every other Friday at the soup kitchen except offices downtown were closed.
We had a handful of regular individual volunteers that came in and despite the fact that we served more than a hundred clients the day went smoothly. First Church of Glastonbury were the volunteers for this meal and are a regular group that volunteers with us on odd holidays such as Election Day, Columbus Day, and Good Friday. They had a wide range of ages from young children to older adults that helped to prepare the food and serve. The meal consisted of lasagna and dressed salad with a bread roll. Most of our clients and staff enjoyed the well prepared meal and some even stayed to get some of the seconds that were available.
Around 12:30pm we still had a lot of clients hanging out and playing games which usually at this time the room would start to clear up a bit. Once 1:00pm rolled around, the room began to thin down as people wrapped up their card and domino games. Clients that were waiting to use the phone got their chance and left once they were finished talking. Overall Good Friday was special for the volunteers and guests. I encourage anyone who volunteers especially on holidays to really take time out and reflect on their experiences.
Hands On Hartford AmeriCorps Member