Gunnery students expand outreach program
Students at the Gunnery in Washington are giving of their time and talents in the community and beyond.
Building on the legacy of community service works organized over 25 years by staffer Karen Lincoln who retired last year, Monte Blaustein has rallied like-minded students to take on community service projects and they have responded, renaming the group the Global Responsibility Team.
The 16 students in the group with Blaustein have continued the program of giving back, and expanded it beyond our local area in order to encompass the global community.
The program includes many larger group and small team projects.
Some are projects the school has supported for years, while others are new and student-driven.
An example of the larger group projects is the classroom assistance provided by four to five students each Monday and Tuesday at the after-school program of the New Milford Children’s Center.
The non-profit center is the first nationally accredited preschool/after school program in Connecticut and provides day care services for about 100 students.
“They are extraordinary role models: tall, young men where all our caregivers are women,” said Susan Johnston, the center’s executive director.
“They empty their pockets of phones and wallets on my desk and they are completely engaged with the children whether in the classroom or on the playground,” she said.
“After an initial awe of their presence, the children have taken to climbing on them and calling for help with swinging and climbing,” she said. “The boys leave for The Gunnery exhausted.”
They help out in the classroom, art class, library, computer lab and gym.
The Gunnery hopes to add students to an additional school in the near future.
Small team projects are diverse in nature.
For example, on their own initiative, students Lee Hollis and Andrew Forman have signed up as volunteer coordinators of a program at Tisch library on Thursday evenings in which Gunnery students tutor students from the Washington Primary School.
Parents can request an hour of free help for their children in any subject, and, although this program is just getting started, it is already gaining grateful clients.
Teams of two or three students are working on fundraising projects for a number of community organizations: UNICEF, Make a Wish Foundation, ASPCA, Goodwill, Wounded Warriors and Toys for Tots are the currently supported organizations.
Funds are being raised through sales of food items at sports events at the Gunnery, a dorm challenge to collect coins, a dorm food delivery service, a collection of shoes and clothing, and, in some cases, funds from the outside community.
In each case, the students involved will present to the entire school on their project, describing the organizations that they are serving.
In addition to the projects aforementioned, the GRT provides welcome ad hoc support for school and community events such as the school’s Giving Tree, the museum’s annual cemetery tour, the Earth Day celebration, and the library’s antique show.