Updated: Jul 5, 2021
The students behind Connect4Good, however, rather than look back at a year lost, they’ll remember a year in which they made a real difference for their community.
Our adolescence is marked by a series of defining moments that coalesce into adulthood. Prom. Graduation. These are the moments we tend to pocket like an old polaroid photo, regardless if we do so in dismay or fondly. For the Class of 2021, their memories will be colored by Zoom classes, self-isolation, and graduation during a global pandemic. The students behind Connect4Good, however, rather than look back at a year lost, they’ll remember a year in which they made a real difference for their community.
The Salinas High School team were strangers before Connect4Good brought them together over the desire to graduate.
“At the beginning of school, we knew we wanted to do something to give back to the community, and we saw a need for community service hours,” Wesley explains, a junior and co-founder and co-president of the initiative.
The pandemic limited the number of opportunities from which Connect4Good and their peers could choose. After throwing around some ideas, the team landed on developing a website that connects people to community service opportunities. It’s a simple solution. The implementation, on the other hand, was wrought with learning curves, like building and managing a website, getting the word out, and unearthing opportunities. The hard work paid off in the end, and Connect4Good marked their official start with a launch party that sent their socials buzzing.
Team secretary Georgie recalls, “A lot of [our] friends were like ‘OMG, an easy way to get community service. Please tell me more!’” The enthusiasm even extended to the adults in their lives, and to the press.
Moving forward, the team will expand their efforts and recruit younger classmates, and they plan on extending their offerings by adding two organizations a month to their sites. Diana, their public outreach director, elaborates, “Eventually, when we all graduate, [the younger team members] will take it over, because [...] we want to find ways to connect people with organizations that cannot only just help get your community service hours, but [who] would actually benefit from you.”
Diana, Georgie, Wesley, and their team certainly benefited from their own work, by creating an opportunity to remove the worry of graduation requirements from their mind, amidst an already stressful academic year. The benefits, however, extend beyond that. Georgie explains, “Not everyone here was like really really close before. Connect4Good threw us in working really well together.” This includes an opportunity to put themselves out there by volunteering through Dorothy’s Kitchen.
“We were still doing what our website was supposed to be doing for other people, and we were all having a great time together.”
It’s sometimes hard to see how far one small act of kindness can go. But, without a doubt, small acts can go far, and not only for those we help, but also for ourselves.
“I think it actually makes me feel like a better person,” Diana explains. “I used to kind of think that I was nervous to go volunteer in places because I thought I would just be in the way and not really be helpful.” But once you get a feel for it, volunteering even for a small moment can reveal how capable you really are of impacting your community.
Bella further elaborates, “I think we are learning how to not only help ourselves, because as kids you kind of want stuff for yourself, but now we are learning how to help other people.” It’s as Alexis says, “If you can help, you should, even if it’s once.”
A common thread across Connect4Good’s story is the realization of how a personal need grew into something much bigger than the self. Something which resonates with Georgie, “[Once I graduate,] I would love to know I’m walking away from this knowing that I am genuinely helping the community. I would love to know what I did made a difference.”
Y’all did good, Georgie.
To learn more about Connect4Good visit www.connect4goodmontereycounty.com