NHC FL members are required to participate in a group service project (GSP) every month during their service term. GSPs allow the NHC FL members to come together and serve the Northeast Florida community outside of their host sites. These service projects vary from serving food to the homeless, mentoring youth, assisting with adaptive sport activities, cleaning up trash from the St. Johns River, and more.
My favorite GSP so far this service term was the Student Mentorship Workshop at the Brown Eastside Branch Library. This library is just one of the many libraries in the Jacksonville Public Library system and provides multiple services aimed to both educate and support community members. These services include one on one tech tutoring, a Teen Tech Lab, free summer lunch program for children 18 years of age and younger, plus so much more!
NHC FL member Maggie enjoyed this GSP and said, “It meant a lot to kids to know someone was there to listen, to get to know them and their story. Sometimes kids just want someone to talk to, and to give them attention and that is exactly what we did!”.
This GSP was coordinated by a NHC FL member, Wesley, who is a part of the group service project committee. He partnered with the Eastside Community Coalition in Jacksonville, FL to create an event where NHC FL members could mentor the local youth and encourage them to think about the importance of school and provide guidance on how to achieve academic and professional goals.
When asked about why mentorship is so important, Wesley said,
“Mentorship saves lives, period. Often times, people grow up in environments where they are unable to see a life different from what immediately surrounds them. This can be detrimental to kids who are lacking in good role models. All of our AmeriCorps members are college graduates, and all of us have had the privilege to pursue our dreams. By putting ourselves out there, and being a resource for kids in the community, we are doing life saving work. A lot of times, it's not giving away a million dollars that will save a life. Who knows, there might be a kid who was going through difficult times, but that one conversation one of our members had with him or her might become a source of hope and light during his or her darkest hours, and that experience can certainly act as a powerful source of inspiration to keep someone going. I can only speak from experience, and having grown up with mentors, I've experienced this life saving impact, and it's only right that I give back.”.
This GSP was my favorite because I had the opportunity to build positive relationships with local children and teens. For example, I was able to mentor a group of girls about their futures, encourage reading, play games with them and listen to them. I hope that NHC FL members continue this GSP in the future.
This blog post was written by NHC FL member Tess Kucera
Tess serves at UF Health - Healthy Start as a Care Coordinator.