If you visit the Boston Cares office on a Sunday, you may find the Boston Cares Teen Advisory Council hard at work planning Global Youth Service Day, playing fun icebreakers, or discussing ways they can get involved in service. The group is made up of teens from Greater Boston who are passionate about volunteering and giving back to the communities they live in. Teen Advisory Council (TAC) members contribute to Boston Cares’ youth programming through the development and implementation of Global Youth Service Day activities and youth-friendly Calendar program opportunities. Members of the Teen Advisory council meet on a monthly basis over the course of six months to plan a service project that addresses a community need and will be implemented by volunteers at Global Youth Service Day, which will be held on April 21st, 2018.
This year’s Teen Advisory Council is made up of 13 teens ranging from 14-18 who live in Boston and surrounding communities. TAC members are motivated, passionate, and active in their school communities and partake in many extra-curriculars such as student council, dance team, UNICEF club, Debate club, and a variety of sports including volleyball, tennis, cross-country, and soccer. When asked why they joined Teen Advisory Council, members described wanting to give back to their communities, to spend their time doing something good, and to help people who are less fortunate than they are. Teen Advisory Council provides a space for teens to connect with other like-minded individuals and collaborate on an issue that is important to them.
When TAC began meeting back in August, it was the height of hurricane season. For the next couple of months, the news was overwhelmed with natural disasters destructing communities such as Houston, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. At our meetings, we discussed ways we could help with the complicated aftermath of disasters. After some brainstorming, the teens knew they wanted to design their Global Youth Service Day project around supporting families who re-located to Massachusetts after Hurricane Maria. After Hurricane Maria, many families evacuated from Puerto Rico and resettled in communities throughout the United States. According to FEMA, there are currently about 500 families looking for temporary housing in Massachusetts. This number stuck with TAC members and motivated them to create a project that would directly support these families.
For Global Youth Service Day (GYSD), they organized a hygiene product drive for families who are being supported by the Salvation Army. This drive includes essential items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, razors, and deodorant. While these may be small items we sometimes take for granted, they are necessary for everyday life. At GYSD, volunteers will help to sort these goods and assemble welcome bags for families. These bags will include a card with well wishes and will also be decorated by volunteers.
If you are interested in donating hygiene products to the drive, you can donate through our Amazon Wishlist here: http://a.co/dS2cR4K .
Another aspect of GYSD will be painting twin beds that will be donated to these families as well. The Boston Cares Bed Project, engages teams of volunteers to assemble high-quality, solid wood bed frames and prepare them for distribution to more than 30 partners across New England – organizations who are directly serving low-income families in need or transitioning out of homelessness. GYSD volunteers will help paint these beds which will then be distributed to families being supported by the Salvation Army. The TAC was passionate about making sure the project they designed directly helped families that were affected by Hurricane Maria, and our partnership with the Salvation Army makes this possible!
If you are interested in volunteering on Global Youth Service Day, you can sign-up here: https://www.bostoncares.org/opportunity/a0C1J00000FtdY0 !
While news coverage has lessened, there is still a lot to be done. You can also donate to Teen Advisory Council’s Amazon Wishlist or bring hygiene products with you to the event on April 21st.
Teen Advisory Council members all have different reasons they give back, whether it be to help those less fortunate, to spend their time doing something meaningful, or positively contribute to their community. These inspiring teens have dedicated their time to community service and they want you to share why you give back! Use the #MilesofGood so we can share your posts!