Goodstein Junior Leaders Update
By Ben Hirsh, Coordinator of Youth Leadership and Volunteer Engagement
It’s s been an incredible year for the Goodstein Junior Leaders (GJLs) filled with service, weekly Friday night tennis and meetings, new members, numerous service-learning projects and events, and of course a whole lot of heart! The GJLs involved in the program this year – a group diverse in its talents, backgrounds, neighborhoods, opinions and ethnicities – spent the year building their communication skills and working together as a team to address meaningful issues in their community. Under the leadership of Cassidy Braniga as president, Alex Fuchs as vice-president, Ameena Mcknight as secretary, Ben Richards as treasurer and Thierry Jones as events planner, the GJL team engaged in ten service-learning projects that reflect the full team’s passions and values as well as range from projects within our Legacy community to projects that cross the seas.
In the fall the team spent time volunteering with We Feed the Homeless Philly and Choosen 300, two local non-profits that help address the complex issue of homelessness in Philadelphia. Whether it was volunteering downtown to hand out meals at Central Library or helping to organize a Zumbathon fundraising event at the Legacy tennis center, the GJL team got first hand experience to met, talk and learn from the people who are afflicted and who address this issue every day. The GJL team continues to engage in the issue of homelessness in Philadelphia through their project Home Is Where the Heart Is and we look forward to sharing more news throughout the next school year.
GJLs also spent time working with staff and coaches to consider the needs of the many young people and families who come to Legacy for tennis to figure out if there is anything they can do to help with in the overall experience. Through talking and working with Lance Lee, VP of Tennis and National Partnerships, it turned out there was something very important GJLs could help with – raising funds for private lessons. GJLs discussed the need, considered all the young people that could use the time working with a coach one on one, made requests as to who and how lessons would be offered, and then made a plan to fundraise. In total, GJLs helped raise $5,000 for private lessons this year and plan to continue to help Legacy and coaches provide this service to our young people.
This year GJLs also linked up with Chris Solecki from Leadership Philadelphia, an adult leadership program whose mission is to connect the private sector to serve the community. Together, both groups spent time getting to know each other’s stories, played tennis on court, and ultimately created a project that would serve the entire Legacy community. After many group discussions, the project both groups chose was to enhance the computer lab at the Center. With Chris’s help, the GJLs had the computers sent to an IT professional for software upgrading and cleaning, painted the room in vibrant Legacy colors, created maintenance and usage policies for users, and installed a projector and screen in the room to truly make it a “smart” room. The final unveiling of the room will be next week! GJLs are excited about the transformation of this room into the “service-learning headquarters!” We even have plans to start a pen pal program with some young people from Kenya – more news on that to come shortly.
Now it’s summer, and, even though the school is out, GJLs continue to stay involved and serve the Legacy community. Here are some highlights for this summer; 5 GJLs just graduated high school and are going to college (all seniors graduated!). 11 current and 5 GJL alumni are serving as junior instructors and site managers in NJTL. 8 GJLs are about to represent Legacy at the annual ATA National tournament in Fort Lauderdale. 10 GJLs will be volunteering to teach tennis for a day at the Ronald McDonald Camp in August, and all GJLs will be working with the Talent ID group that comes to the Legacy tennis center on Tuesday and Thursdays to help on court and run team building games. Thank you to all the staff, coaches, parents, volunteers and young people who make this program so great. Go GJLs!