United Way of Greater New Haven and New Haven Public Schools announced the expansion of Boost! at the March 26th New Haven Board of Education meeting. Boost!, a partnership between United Way of Greater New Haven, the City of New Haven and the New Haven Public Schools, is a community and family-focused strategy within New Haven's nationally recognized School Change Initiative.
Friday, March 2, Barnard School had a Pep Rally featuring the Yale Precision Marching Band and Xtreme Impact! Students in grade 3 through 8 gathered to sing and dance to Yale Precision Band's rendition of "Party Rock", as well as view impossible feats of strength by the men of Xtreme Impact! These feats included blowing up a hot water pack to the point of popping, bending a metal horseshoe into the shape of a heart, tearing a thousand page phone book in half, lifting two students over his head as they held on to a metal rod, bending an iron skillet into a taco, and breaking 5 cement bricks in half with his bare arm!
When I was 21 years old, I realized there is so much more in the world outside the little bubble I lived in. I traveled on an international excursion to Tanzania, Africa to spend a month teaching children living in poverty. I worked with 200 primary school-aged students, 65 of which were HIV positive. The poverty was rampant in the village of Moshi, and necessities were hard to come by. Getting past the language barrier, and the stigma of HIV was a difficult task. My month volunteering was one of the most stressful, frustrating, amazing experiences of my life, to say the least. Of course I traveled halfway across the world hoping to make a huge impact on every child I came in contact with yet I realized if you make one child smile, that in itself is an impact. The work I completed there left a longer lasting impact on myself, and I learned so much about myself; I changed forever.
Last Wednesday night was open house for the parents and guardians of Barnard students, a chance to meet teachers and see what the school year ahead holds for the kids.
As the parents and guardians entered the school, they were greeted by a banner declaring that Barnard is proud to be a Boost! school. In addition to this outside banner, there was me, included in the row of tables introducing the parents and guardians to the Student Services office and the fall fundraiser, among other things.
The spider is the mascot of my alma mater, the University of Richmond (Richmond, Virginia). So how did I come to the United Way from the Spiders?
As an undergraduate, I discovered my passion for creating social justice in this world. I explored this passion both academically, as a Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies major, and as an activist, a leader in many different organizations that worked towards establishing equality for all people. After graduating in 2009, I returned to my home state of Connecticut. For two years, I bounced around from job to job: an office assistant at a plumbing company, a temp through an agency, a Crew Leader for the 2010 Census, and an intern in the New Haven Mayor's Office at the Prison Reentry Initative.