It was entirely my honor to serve at the Project 351 kick-off event this year. Founded by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Project 351 unites one 8th-grade Ambassador from each of Massachusetts’ 351 townships. The 8th graders are individuals who model outstanding citizenship and are pillars of leadership in their school communities. This service event is unique for our team because it provides the incredible opportunity to serve alongside the greater Massachusetts state community. Within the Boston area, five different sites and service events were simultaneously conducted. I had the incredible opportunity of leading the site projects at The Orchard Gardens Boys and Girls Club of Roxbury.

The Boys and Girls Club at the Orchard Gardens Community Center stands as a pillar within the community, hosting a plethora of outreach events and afterschool programs for neighborhood youth. Such activities and programs range from: physical activity, homework tutoring, digital/computer resources, exploring social rights issues through Discovering Justice, and many more. The Foundation To Be Named Later Boston Civic Engagement team partnered with Orchard Gardens Boys and Girls Club in order to facilitate a winter carnival and host several service projects. In total, we accomplished 110 hygiene resource kits, 10 panel murals, 7 quote murals, 1 large Martin Luther King tile mosaic, and an amazing winter carnival for all the Boys and Girls Club members and families to attend.

The hygiene kits consisted of basic amenities and toiletries that would be useful to the preteens and teens at the center. The 10 panel murals are to be hung up in the computer resource room and the activity room in order to bring some fun and engaging art to the walls. The Martin Luther King Jr. quotes and mosaic are going to be an installation in the main hallway of the community center to greet all incoming members and community. Lastly, there was the Winter Carnival full of engaging games and DIY take-home activities. We went with the “Do It Yourself” theme so that the club members could leave with fun ideas for engaging activities they can do at home with family members and friends. Every station was complete with take-away activities (including instructions) for future entertainment.

Over 100 community members and 50, 8th-grade Ambassadors were able to meet and serve alongside influential individuals in the Massachusetts community. During the course of the day we were visited by Governor Patrick, Massachusetts Secretary of Education Matthew Malone, and retired NFL New England Patriots Linebacker Eric Alexander. Patrick, Malone, and Alexander went above and beyond with service, participating in every carnival station, speaking with students and Ambassadors, as well as participating in both our panel mural and hygiene resource kits service projects. At the closing ceremony Alexander spoke to the attendees, leaving us with valuable insight and a lasting theme for our day of service: never forget the value of solidarity within our communities and the importance of forging the next generation in an environment of knowledge, love, and equal opportunities.

               Pictured: Corps Members working on the Martin Luther King Mosaic at Orchard Gardens Boys and Girls Club.

About the author:
Claire Cylkowski is a 2013-2014 senior corps member serving on the Foundation To Be Named Later Boston Civic Engagement team.

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