By: Michael Dane Lewis, 2018 Work and Travel Participant & Ambassador Scholar
I believe that the Work and Travel program is a great way for many participants to engage in volunteering and community involvement. This year, I partnered with the youth pastor of the Lighthouse Church, Nick and his wife Leigh-Ann, to execute a ‘BACK 2 SCHOOL BASH’ for all school ages and the community on Friday, August 24th. This community event was geared towards nation building and integration.
Today, there are many young people who lack certain materials needed to perform as they should in school to attain a worthwhile education. As a result, we gained sponsorship from a number of local businesses and donations from close friends to provide items and gift cards for giveaways, as well as the necessary supplies that students in the community require to adequately prepare for school.
The community’s police department and fire department accepted an invitation to the event and came prepared with fun and interactive activities and games. They kept everyone entertained for a full three hours. There were also children games, a bounce house, and race car viewing.
What is an event without food? Catering was sponsored by Yellow Submarine Pizza Subs, The Fresh Market, Duck Donuts and other local businesses. We also had popcorn and cotton candy machines in the mix of fruit trays, cookie platters, RipCurls, pizza and hot dogs. The event would not have been successful without the help of all the contributors from the church and the local community. Everything was either sponsored or contributed – from the loudspeaker boxes to the ever full bounce house that seems as if it was dancing to the rhythms of the musical beats.
The turn out was great and we were able to supply all the students with supplies for back to school and a few of the game winners with other prizes.
I am passionate about eliminating the barriers to accessing education in various domains. Being challenged financially is a hindrance to the successful completion of academic studies for many students in the world, even in America. So to be able to provide materials for even one child in my host community so that he or she could leap towards a brighter future is a huge personal accomplishment. Education aids in instilling the necessary values for individuals to make themselves marketable. Hence, I choose to assist in educating the population so that people can be equipped with sufficient knowledge to be able to grow and glow positively without resorting to negativity!