2020 Jenks Leadership Program Service Projects
The culmination of the Jenks Leadership program is the service project. In teams of 4-6, Jenks participants design and execute a service project during the third module of their Jenks experience, using the skills and tools they have learned during their first two modules. Rather than assign a project to each team, students are given the opportunity, as a group, to choose an issue they are passionate about and come up with a creative approach to effecting change. This year due to COVID-19 most of the 2020 projects had to be reimagined. Students managed the unexpected disruption with aplomb and were able to successfuly bring some semblance of conclusion or continuity to their projects.
Affordable Housing in the Greater Boston Area
Our project is designed to demonstrate ways in which affordable housing impacts peoples’ lives in the greater Boston area with a more specific focus on bursting through the “BC bubble” and the illusions we have about the real world while living on a college campus. We want people to understand the severity of the crisis and of the issues at hand. Our project will focus on how cost of living impacts choices and lifestyles. We will be working with student affairs to create a BC specific program for college students, which will include the impact college loans have on your monthly budget.
Ballou Farm Urban Agricultural Promotional Project
Our project focused on an Urban Agricultural Project called The OASIS on Ballou. This farm is located directly on the Fairmount Line in Dorchester, where many people are living below the poverty line. Like many other neighborhoods along the rail line, Dorchester residents have difficulty accessing affordable healthy food, and many suffer from health conditions such as diabetes. Ballou Farm is a place where community members can learn about healthy eating and make a living selling the farm’s produce to local restaurants. The farm also employs formerly incarcerated men to harvest crops each spring and summer. We had originally planned to organize a volunteer day in April and redesign the farm’s website for our service project. Due to the challenges from COVID-19, the volunteer day for Ballou Farm has been postponed to the fall. There will be a website created to promote the farm’s mission and offer volunteer opportunities there in the future. Keep an eye out for fliers around BC’s campus, and we hope to see you on Ballou Farm soon!
Our project recognizes the wavering efforts of Earth’s various societies to combat climate change. Starting in Chestnut Hill, we aim to combat climate change through an extraordinary yet all-too-familiar species: bees. With Boston College's very own beehive on top of Fulton Hall, our plan has been to install live web cameras and utilize an engaging, dynamic website to spread awareness of bees' importance. Partnering with BC administration and BC's sustainability and energy specialist, Bruce Dixon, we planned to educate the BC community and eventually spread to schools in the greater Boston area. However, given the impact of COVID-19, all non-essential projects came to a halt, including our webcam installation.
UPDATE: Webcam was installed and we witnessed the beehive delivery via Zoom on May 25th. Website will be launced in Fall 2020.
Helping MIRA Promote Immigrant Rights
Our project is focused on establishing a partnership and relationship between MIRA, Massachusetts’s Immigration and Refugee Advocacy coalition, and Boston College. MIRA’s mission is to help immigrants know their rights and provide them with resources necessary to help them adjust to the U.S. and become citizens. MIRA places an importance on immigrants as human beings and not “illegals.” The organization helps immigrants become naturalized citizens and registered voters. Our project plan is to partner with MIRA to bring a greater awareness of immigration and immigrant rights to Boston College. We hope to do this next semester with an information session and volunteer training session provided by a MIRA representative. Then we plan to provide transportation to BC students interested in volunteering to MIRA’s citizenship clinics. We hope to establish an ongoing partnership between BC students as volunteers with MIRA and to promote a greater awareness of immigration rights at BC.
Jenks and Perkins: Adaptive Sports & Caring Communities
Our project is focused on connecting the Boston College community to Perkins School for the Blind, which serves students with visual impairments and other disabilities in the greater-Boston area. Originally, our plan was to make this possible through Goalball—a popular adaptive sport where players are blindfolded and must attempt to roll a noise-making ball into their opponent’s goal—specifically by building a goalball net for younger students at the school, collaborating with the BC Council with Students for Disabilities, and organizing an event in which BC students could visit Perkins, try the sport, and hopefully garner a new appreciation for the importance of adaptive sports. However, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, we were not able to bring this initial plan to fruition. In order to still create a connection between BC and Perkins, we instead decided to create a fundraising campaign during the month of May using our social media platforms, thereby connecting Perkins to a new base of supporters as well as creating new community awareness and interest in Perkins’ mission.
Signing Up For Sustainability
Our project focused on increasing sustainability in the BC Dining Halls. One of our group members saw a problem with sanitation when she tried bringing in her own tupperware to the dining hall to take food to-go. In general, we saw that the dining culture at BC was inundated with unsustainable practices such as too many single-use plastic options, non-recyclable salad and pasta bowls, and bulky glass plates that made it difficult for on-the-go students to choose them as a sustainable option. Therefore, we partnered with BC Dining to kick-start the Green-to-Go initiative. As a part of the program, students can ask for a green container when getting their food, pay a one-time fee to purchase the container, and return it to a special area for washing. Upon return, students receive a green carabiner that signifies payment. The next time they want to eat, they turn in the green carabiner instead of paying for the container again. We hope to expand this program to all dining halls and make this a larger initiative next year.
Past Service Projects
BC Lax Has Your Back: Forming a Service Partnership with Harlem Lacrosse Boston
Our project focused on establishing a partnership between Boston College and Harlem Lacrosse. Harlem Lacrosse’s mission is to empower the children who are most at risk for academic decline and dropout to rise above their challenges and reach their full potential. Harlem Lacrosse inspires children to dream about tomorrow while working hard on the field and in the classroom today. Through a shared love of the sport, our group was able to utilize Jenk’s resources and personal connections to bring together Boston College Women’s Club Lacrosse and Harlem Lacrosse Boston in an inaugural clinic co-hosted by JLP and BC Women’s Club Lacrosse. Moving forward, both teams are excited for future opportunities to collaborate together and further foster the relationship with the understanding that such a partnership and its implications stretch far beyond the lacrosse field.
Extreme Makeover: St. Francis House Edition
Our project, Extreme Makeover: St. Francis House Edition, focused on expanding the capabilities of the St. Francis House Clothing Center in downtown Boston. Clothing distribution centers require extensive maintenance, and many have been shut down. Thus, the need for quick and efficient access to clothing for the homeless and underserved is a growing need in the urban Boston area. Working closely with the St. Francis House staff, our group accomplished three goals: (1) improved the infrastructure through transforming the clothing storage space, (2) implemented an inventory system to track clothing going in and out, (3) and developed a strong relationship with BC service groups to provide more volunteers to focus on sorting and organizing the storage rooms. Ultimately, our team provided not only physical clothing, but also a sense of compassion and care for those most disadvantaged in our society.
Farming a Sustainable Lifestyle
We have partnered with Newton Community Farm, a local nonprofit and the last working farm in Newton, to encourage sustainable living in our community. The farm aims to educate on sustainable agricultural and environmental practices through workshops, kids’ camps, and daily farm visits. They provide locally grown produce through their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, their farm stand, Newton farmers markets, and donations to local food pantries. We have teamed with Newton Community Farm to create a guide to sustainable living that will serve as a curriculum as well as a channel to raise awareness and promote the efforts of the farm.
Coursework to Careers: A Mentorship Initiative
Our group identified the lack of resources available to underclassmen enrolled in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences in terms of continued, informal peer mentorship in areas related to career path exploration and extracurricular interests. Jesuit pedagogy at Boston College focuses on the inherent value found in self-reflection, and the senior class seems particularly attuned to sharing their personal insights with peers as they prepare to transition to life beyond BC. Hoping to draw on this aspect of the senior experience, our group collaborated with the Career Center to initiate a Senior Speaker Panel and a Mentor Matching Initiative. The panel featured five seniors with unique academic and pre-professional insights and was geared toward an audience of MCAS underclassmen. The Matching Initiative will serve as an extension of our panel, supported by the formation of an online platform that will connect upperclassmen mentor volunteers with underclassmen mentees. It is our hope that authentic connections will form amongst mentors and mentees, and these relationships will continue to develop in the semesters to come.
Eagle Allies: Partnering with BC Students with Chronic Illness and Physical Disabilities
Our project serves to improve ally relations with our fellow eagles living with physical disabilities and chronic illnesses. To do so, our group worked to provide a space and resources for a new support group on campus to promote community and self-advocacy for the necessary improvements on campus. We also created a document of the available resources on campus for disabled students to be acquired at Orientation, through the Office of First Year Experience and Disability Services.
Creating Music Opportunities at Thomas Edison K-8
Music had a profound effect on each of our lives, particularly on our personal development through middle and high school. Unfortunately, access to music education and opportunities to perform music can be hard to come by for children in low income communities. We collaborated with Boston College’s Music Outreach program and music students at Boston College to develop an introductory music education program consisting of eight modules designed to assist student music teachers in introducing younger students to basic music subjects such as singing, rhythm, and piano. The program will be implemented at the Thomas Edison K-8 School in Brighton, MA by student teachers from the Music Outreach program at Boston College.
Class of 2018 Projects
Kids for Healthy Minds
The mission of Kids for Healthy Minds is to create resources for teachers to talk about mental health proactively and positively from an early age. Educators and school counselors often address such issues reactively, years later during adolescence. Thus, we have created ten distinct lesson plans, each focusing on a particular children's book, with activities and questions to provide opportunities for growth in each individual student and encourage healthy relationship-building among peers. Our curriculum dives deeper into messages and emotional education rooted in the content of these books, allowing the lesson to continue after reading the book.
For more information, visit www.kidsforhealthyminds.org
Building Bridges: Mattapan Teen Center and Boston College
The goal of our project is to build a productive and meaningful relationship between the Mattapan Teen Center and Boston College. The Mattapan Teen Center operates under the umbrella of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, which helps young people in need build character and be responsible citizens and leaders in their communities. The director of the Teen Center identified a need for the teens to be exposed to the experiences that people of color face in society and on college campuses. We assembled a panel of bright and intelligent students of color from Boston College to lead critical conversations with the members of the Mattapan Teen Center where they offered their perspectives on high school, the college process, and their experiences at Boston College as a person of color.
Jenks X Boston Medical Center
For our project we created a space for children who are patients at Boston Medical Center that fosters a positive, educational, and comfortable hospital experience. Our goal is to help diminish the negative stigma of hospitals as a dark and scary place. By creating a room that serves as a first impression for patients and their families, we are able to make a lasting impact on the role that the hospital plays in their lives. For the funding, supplies, and design of the room we secured an artist to create a mural on the wall, secured toy and book donations from Leap Frog, Melissa & Doug and other organizations, and created a Go fund Me page.
Rosie's Place Arts Initiative
The mission of our project is to instill or renew a love for the arts within an underprivileged community in the Boston-area and inspire the use of the arts for personal expression. We partnered with Rosie’s Place, a women’s shelter located in downtown Boston. Rosie’s Place recently ended their arts program due to funding, so we worked with the volunteer coordinator to bring BC musicians to perform during the dinner period. Residents were also invited to perform with the BC musicians. We also led an arts and crafts session with the women and their children. We plan to continue our involvement with this initiative as we will be facilitating a temporary art exhibit to be displayed in the McMullen Museum and the Robsham Theatre bringing this art exchange full circle.
Bursting the Bubble: Expanding the Service Culture at BC
Through our college experience, we have found how difficult it can be to find ways to make an impact in the community. Our mission is to provide services and make it much easier for clubs on campus to share their gifts and talents with those who need them in the Boston area. Through our collaboration with OSI (Office of Student Involvement) we want to share the service leadership skills that we learned through Jenks and inspire the community to follow the Jesuit values of Boston College's mission and 10 year plan. By creating the Excel Curriculum and the Leadership Development Program modules, we aim to create a sustainable plan that will continue to impact eagles long after we graduate.
Little Impacts: Teaching Littles a Sustainable Lifestyle
The goal of our project is to increase awareness of environmental issues by creating engaging and informative activities. We partnered with BC Bigs, a campus-based mentoring program, where “Little Brothers and Sisters” from Franklin Field Housing Development in Dorchester come to campus to do activities with their “Big Brothers and Sisters.” Our presentation to the 50 littles, ages 7-17 addressed three themes: pollution, climate change, and habitat destruction where we discussed how each theme relates to each other, their impact on our world, and how we can help to protect the environment. Activities included a recycling game, plant pot decorating where littles received seedlings for the pots they created, and an interactive quiz that paired littles with their bigs to answer questions about the lessons learned during the afternoon. BC Bigs have expressed an intent to continue this initiative.
Class of 2017 Projects
5K LONG FOR BC STRONG
The goal of our project is to bring a larger sense of awareness amongst the student body of the lack of accessibility and difficulties that students with physical disabilities face on campus. Working in collaboration with the Boston College Strong Scholarship our team implemented an on-campus 5K run to raise money for the scholarship fund. The Boston College Strong Scholarship was created in honor of alumnus Patrick Downes ’05 and his wife Jessica Kensky who were survivors of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. This scholarship provides financial aid to a student with physical disabilities and in need of such aid. This first annual 5K run generated publicity across the BC community not only about the scholarship but about the story and mission of the couple that founded it, and attracted more than 70 runners. We hope to make this an annual event and will be working to create a BC Strong student organization. In year two, we hope to have 200+ runners.
BC NOURISHES ST. COLUMBKILLE
This project was designed to engage and educate elementary school students at St. Columbkille on issues of health, nutrition, and overall wellness. While an incredibly valuable lifelong skill, knowledge of nutrition is rarely discussed in lower-level education. The goal for our project was to empower young students to take personal responsibility of their health by focusing on nutrition education in the classroom. Over two days, we implemented a nutrition education workshop to 3rd and 4th graders. Workshops featured guest speakers comprising of BC athletes, dancers, and students enrolled in nutrition classes. We also provided a healthy snack bar, and engaged students in games that reviewed the concepts discussed in the workshops. Emphasizing the importance of healthy eating while proposing ways that students might implement new knowledge into their daily life was received with very positive reactions from both students and teachers. The students thrived by learning new curriculum and the methods we used to convey the information were conducive to student learning. Looking forward, given Boston College’s partnership with St. Columbkille we have started the conversation with the Boston College Office of Health Promotion to possibly carry on and build on this initiative.
THE GIVING GARDEN
Our project was to build a sustainable garden at the East Boston Early Education Center. It was our goal to promote a sense of belonging and hope for the community and all who interact with the garden particularly the children so that they form and have a meaningful connection with their local environment. Our sub-goals were to enhance the school campus and neighborhood by bringing nature into an inner-city environment; increase student interaction with nature, which helps mitigate behavioral issues and learning differences; and create a beautiful space for an under-resourced school that will be sustainable and inspire hope in children, teachers, and parents. Working with a professional landscaper, we planted plants that will thrive over the summer with minimal watering. During the school year, one class per week would receive the special honor to water the Giving Garden so they each have a piece in its growth. We plan to engage Recruit EcoReps or another club to help maintain the garden as well as start a fundraising campaign to support the future of our garden.
MEALS FOR OTHERS
For our project we sought to bring awareness to the global issues of poverty and nutrition in rural areas. We created a fundraising campaign which included a dinner and acapella show to benefit the organization Landesa. Over 1 billion of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas where land is a key asset, but they do not have rights to the land. Founded in 1981 by Roy Prosterman, the Landesa Rural Development Institute was the first NGO to partner with governments to extend land rights to the rural poor which has resulted in increased agricultural production; increased property investments; and increased income. We decided to host a dinner as it is symbolic of feeding yourself and donating to feed others while rallying people around something that naturally brings community together (food!) We worked closely with BC’s executive chef, Frank Bailey to create a farm to table sourced menu and included acapella groups in the event as we believe that they embody the university’s mission to create a community. Future plans for this project include working with BC Dining to designate left over meal plan dollars to the Landesa organization and securing sponsors to donate food to forthcoming fundraising efforts.
PUTT FOR VETERANS
Our project was created to raise awareness and funds to benefit American military veterans who are faced with overcoming disabilities and major injuries. We partnered with Soldier Strong, an organization that is dedicated to improving the lives of our veterans by providing “state of the art” technology to help get them back on their feet. Soldier Strong partners with the world’s leading medical technology companies to provide profound, life changing devices for veterans. Our team’s fundraising effort included a miniature golf tournament, raffle sales and an event at Agoro’s.
Class of 2016 Projects
STANDUP FOR A CAUSE
Our team planned a fundraiser to benefit Prevent Child Abuse America. The event StandUp For a Cause was held in Robsham Theater and featured performances from some of Boston College’s best comedy talent groups, including Ready, Set, PUNCHLINE and CCE. Headlining was Boston College alumnus and comedian, Dana Jay Bein. Our group hopes to make StandUp For a Cause an annual event that will give student comedy groups exposure while raising money for a great organization.
FRANCISCANS FIELD DAY
For our project, our team planned an event for the Franciscan Hospital for Children. The objective of our project was to use the talents within the BC community and create an event for the pediatric patients at Franciscan's. Working with a child life specialist at the hospital, the team developed the idea to have a fun day for the patients. Collaborating with BC’s Project Sunshine group, volunteers participated in activities like finger and face painting, a beanbag toss, hopscotch and bubble blowing with the patients. Project Sunshine plans to continue this initiative in years to come. Our leadership takeaways from this experience can be summed up in three words, ADAPTABILITY, INCLUSION, AND PERSISTENCE.
ST. COLUMBKILLE OLYMPICS
For our project, we collaborated with St. Columbkille Partnership School to implement the St. Columbkille Sports Club, a three week long athletic discovery program focusing on six different sports, including basketball, kickball and volleyball. Volunteers were drawn from BC's club sports teams, who mentored and coached St. Columbkille students from 3-5:00 PM Monday through Thursday, helping the latter group to sample new activities and build meaningful relationships with their peers. The afternoon started with volunteers helping the students with homework followed by sport activities in the second part of the afternoon. The St. Columbkille School had been interested in finding a way to implement more sports initiatives for their students, so our project helped them to spearhead this initiative and inaugurate their new sports facilities.
SPRING CLEANING: CLOTHING DRIVE
Lessons in adaptability, flexibility, scalability and red tape were learned as we had to forego our initial project plan that focused on creating avenues of income for autistic individuals through participant accomplishment in the arts. After the setback we regrouped and came up with a project that we felt benefited a worthy community in need. We organized a clothing drive to benefit St. Francis House, the largest day center for homeless individuals in Massachusetts. We launched a major social media campaign and were able to generate tremendous buzz among students resulting in a truckload of clothes that was donated to St. Francis.
Class of 2015 Projects
The original mission of our project was to educate the Boston College community about the repercussions of smoking and tobacco. However, we realized that education was not the primary issue, as almost everyone is aware of the negative repercussions of smoking. So we decided to reshape our mission, to make Boston College a smoke-free campus. Though we understood that this was a lofty goal, especially considering our time constraints, we hoped that this Jenks project would be able to start a greater movement on campus, which would have effects and benefits far beyond our semester-long project. We identified three phases of the project which we felt were necessary to achieve this goal. They included raising awareness; garnering support from other student bodies; and finally the policy change that would make BC a smoke-free campus. The first step of this project focused on creating awareness on the Boston College campus, and we partnered with Boston College Relay for Life--specifically with its Colleges Against Cancer Committee. At the Relay for Life 12-hour, overnight event sponsored by the American Cancer Society, we were able to reach a very wide and diverse audience. Our initiative to raise awareness included quarter sheets and laminated literature, illustrating the dangers of smoking and tobacco; and in order to engage and incentivize traffic to our table, hundreds of “educational cookies,” which each contained a fact related to smoking or smoking-induced diseases.
As found by our research, universities and colleges with smoke-free campuses typically became smoke-free by a top-down policy. Because this project aims to create change via a grassroots approach, we recognized that gaining support on campus among students and faculty was crucial. Through a partnership with the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC), a survey was sent out to a random sampling of BC students, inquiring about their support of the smoke-free movement at Boston College. After raising awareness, it was necessary to create a network of support for the movement on campus to make it more visible and credible, and identified other key and relevant organizations on campus to join the movement. Some of these organizations include the BC chapter of the American Red Cross, Globe Med, EcoPledge, and the Connell School of Nursing Senate.
We hope that the benefits of this project extend far beyond our semester of Jenks, and while the most important goals of this semester to build a strong foundation for the movement, by raising awareness and garnering support were met, most of the action will take place in the months and semesters to come. The partnership with UGBC, Relay for Life, and the smoke-free committee will continue to promote and grow this initiative next year. As this collaboration becomes stronger, we will work with the administration to create the institutional change necessary to make Boston College a smoke-free campus.
As of April 2, 2015, there were 1,543 smoke-free college campuses and over a thousand tobacco-free campuses in the United States, according to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. 3 other Jesuit universities, 21 other major schools in Massachusetts are now smoke-free, including Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. It is our hope that Boston College will join the ranks of these other universities, to become a smoke-free campus.
JENKS LOVES MAIL
For our project, we partnered with the Girls Love Mail charity, an organization founded by Gina Mulligan, a breast cancer survivor, which collects hand-written letters and gives them to women undergoing breast cancer treatment. These letters are distributed through cancer centers and doctor’s offices. We set up a Jenks table at Relay for Life, where we gave BC students the opportunity to not only emotionally connect to a major world issue, but connect with others outside of the BC community.
The event embodied the mission of beginning in the night, and waking up into the sunrise with new light and new adventures ahead of you. It was very humbling to see the number of people who wrote letters which contained words of inspiration and encouragement. Roughly 150 letters were written by BC students, and as of April 2, 2015, the Girls Love Mail organization had received 4,568 letters and counting.
Relay for Life has asked that this initiative continue next year and beyond.
MINI JENKS AT BIRD STREET COMMUNITY CENTER
For our project we worked with middle-schoolers at the Bird Street Community Center, in Dorchester. We created a Mini Jenks program and ran two workshops. For the first workshop we used games to focus on teamwork and improving communication skills. Using Tinker Toys students were charged with building the tallest structure under various communication constraints; and with the blindfold game challenges were presented, and students had to rely on their peers to achieve tasks. This workshop accomplished its goal by demonstrating and teaching the students teamwork, listening, and nonverbal communication skills. The second workshop was focused on conflict resolution skills where we presented various skits and scenarios and had the students come up with solutions. With this workshop, students were able to walk away with tools that will help them to navigate any complex or challenging situation that they may be presented. The students were very engaged in the activities, and we received very positive feedback from the Director of the Middle School Youth Council at the Center.
PASSING IT FORWARD
The mission of our project was to organize and implement a student run program to foster learning and leadership for young members of the Roxbury Youth Program, while developing their appetite for opportunities for higher education. We had three objectives: to encourage students to think about college; foster goal setting to focus on future plans; and to build leadership and teamwork skills. The students were juniors and seniors, and for the first two goals, we directed the discussion towards their plans for the future and answer questions they had about college life. Using the SMART goal framework, we were able to provide them with information on what they needed to do to go to college and be successful while there. The students were very receptive during the workshop and were excited to think about their future. For the third objective, we used the Stranded on a Life Raft exercise to help them learn how to work together and learn the art of prioritizing. The activity was a success and the students reported that they enjoyed it much more than they expected. They got very competitive with each other and worked well in teams to get the best results.