The holiday season is an occasion to spend time with family and friends. It affords us a shared opportunity to express gratitude for life, love, and food.
For many, the holidays also present an opportunity to volunteer, to donate our time and talents to support the most vulnerable members of our communities — the homeless, poverty stricken, disabled, and the ill. But while volunteering during the holidays is valuable, the rewards it brings both to the community and to the individual are becoming more and more vital to a country which is increasingly separated by the labels that “identify” us. Connecticut needs a mechanism to engage its youth in experiences that will teach, empower, and mature them as well as offer them a means and reason to continue living here.
That’s why I have gathered a small group of like-minded individuals to embark with me on a mission to make Connecticut a national leader in incentivizing and facilitating youth volunteerism.
Serve Here CT is a private initiative funded through a donation from the Child and Family Agency of Southeastern CT seeking to provide incentives for high school and college students to serve in their local communities. We are working to form a partnership with the state government, as well as a handful of not-for-profits, to fund a model program which will offer school debt forgiveness or financial aid to men and women between the ages of 18 and 25 in return for a year of service at a non-profit organization. They will also receive a living stipend in order to be able to afford to participate full-time in the program.
Volunteers will have the amazing opportunity to boost their resume, build a network, and grow as a person. We believe that the slow economic recovery within the state and the drain of our talented youth makes Connecticut the ideal state to foster this program; a program that forges societal bonds, enriches communities, and builds financial capital.
This season let us not simply encourage volunteerism during the holidays; let us weave it into the fabric of what it means to be from Connecticut.
Alva Greenberg is founder and president of Serve Here Connecticut