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Making Connections and Volunteering

By: Jessy Edwards, Greenheart Exchange Career Advancement Program Ambassador Scholar

When I first interviewed with Greenheart Exchange, I told them how I wanted to eventually start a volunteer project that would mentor young people with writing and journalism skills.

I live in Brooklyn, New York. Some pockets of Brooklyn are very wealthy, and in others, much of the neighborhood is in poverty. Brownsville, which is a short bus ride south of me, is one of those areas. According to a NYC Health study, an estimated 37 percent of Brownsville residents lived in poverty in 2015, compared to 21 percent in all of New York City. One in six residents were unemployed. But anyone who has visited Brownsville or lives near the suburb will tell you it’s bustling with activity, community projects, and eager young people. In fact, Brownsville has one of the highest percentages of children as a proportion of the population.

This is why I have decided to try for lift-off on my volunteer project in Brownsville, in the hopes I can help some young writers publish some work and get a foot in the door of a writing career.

To start with, I have been in contact with a local community non-profit that works with teenagers on self-development. I found the GILD Foundation advertisement for volunteers who would be willing to help with projects and communications, and I think with its local knowledge it would be a great organization to team up with. In the past, the foundation has held events where young people can meet successful business owners. It also holds an annual drive for people to donate prom dresses to young people who cannot afford them.

I’m looking forward to pitching them my project and seeing if they know of any teens who might be interested.

With my skills and knowledge, my goal is to start an online publication where these young people can be published. Several of my colleagues and I would then edit and mentor. I currently mentor our young interns at my placement, and it’s so rewarding to see them grow.  All going to plan, I’d love to partner with a local printing company so these kids might also be able to see their work in print. Wish me luck!

Do you want to have a life-changing experience abroad? Check out Greenheart Exchange and our Career Advancement Programs.