Having Fun Social Distancing – UWYV Samoset Venturer Emily Leon

Emily Leon UWYV Samoset Team Helping Paws with UWVY LogosThe last time I saw Emily Leon, from the UWYV Team Helping Paws, was March 6, 2020. That was my last day at Samoset before the shutdown of schools due to COVID-19. That day, she excitedly told me how she and Ashlee (her teammate) were having a successful donation drive for pet supplies for the Sterling Animal Shelter. Their collection bins were really filling up!

Emily has a lot of spunk. She is the kind of kid who shows her spirit by wearing an elf costume to school the last day before Samoset’s Christmas vacation. I thought that was great! It was not something that I, as a shy, awkward middle-schooler would have ever done. Here she is proudly posing for a picture with an elfin twinkle in her eye.

Emily Leon UWYV Samoset Team Helping Paws
Emily Leon UWYV Samoset Team Helping Paws

Since their launch last spring, Emily and Ashlee are dedicated to their cause and are truly embracing the Changemaking mindset of empathy, teamwork and leadership.

Having Fun Social Distancing – UWYV Samoset Venturer Emily Leon

So, what has Emily been up to now since being at home? She answers that and much more in the following interview.

How long have you been participating in UWYV? 

I have been participating in UWYV for about 2 years.  I started off by looking into doing a plant-based project, but then I decided I wanted to help shelter animals because they seemed unlucky, unlike animals who have homes.

Emily Leon UWYV Samoset Team Helping Paws Donation Drive Posters
UWYV Samoset Team Helping Paws Showing Their Donation Drive Posters. From L to R Ashlee, Emily and (Kayla, who is also shown in the below team launch photo).

Tell us about your UWYV Team Helping Paws. What is your cause and what have you been able to accomplish since your launch last spring? What do you hope to do once everything returns to normal? 

Helping Paws is a United Way Youth Venture based on helping shelter animals. We have currently partnered with the Sterling Animal Shelter.  Our team conducted a bake sale at the Johnny Appleseed Festival in town and made a great profit.  We also conducted a supply drive at our middle school where you could drop off animal food, beds, toys, etc. right before we were sent home for COVID-19.  I hope we can run more drives and raise more money to provide more to the Sterling Animal Shelter.

How are you doing? What does a typical day at home look like for you?  

I am doing amazing. A typical day at home is waking up, eating breakfast, playing games with friends online, doing my schoolwork online and then playing games inside or outside depending on the weather. 

How has the stay-at-home/social distancing of COVID-19 affected you positively? 

While being at home,  I get to spend more time with my family and pets. I am also more active with bike riding, which I didn’t have much time to enjoy before with all my extracurricular activities.

Do you have a positive changemaking story that has resulted from this? 

We have been home and were able to raise some baby chickens to add to our flock. I have also learned how to cook the eggs and have done more baking and cooking than I ever did in the past. We are also supporting local businesses by buying their delicious food.

What do you miss most about school? What other activities have been put on hold for you? 

I miss the art club, where I got to express my love of art. I miss my teachers and my classmates because the school year was going well and I enjoyed the fun activities we were doing. My other activities that are on hold are ballet, soccer, refereeing for soccer, and chorus (including my trip to Canobie Lake we usually have near the end of the year.)

Are you able to talk with your friends?  How do you do that – Snapchat? Zoom? Google Meet? 

Yes, I have been using Facetime to connect with my close friends. I also use Google Meet to see my teachers and classmates. We play Kahoot.  Recently, I met up with a friend on a bike ride to the school. We were able to chat but had to keep our distance for safety reasons.

Are you able to talk to your United Way Youth Venture teammate? How is she doing? 

Yes, I have been talking with Ashlee through FaceTime, texting and meeting up on the bike rides (as stated above).  She is doing very well. She is keeping up with her work and still finds time to play on-line with me.

Emily Leon UWYV Samoset Team Helping Paws Launch
Emily Leon and Kayla Jakubiak UWYV Samoset Team Helping Paws Launch

What is your favorite thing about participating in United Way Youth Venture?  

My favorite thing is I get to help all the shelter animals and feel good that I am making a difference.  I love animals and may pursue a career related to animals someday, such as a Zoologist. 

What does participating in United Way Youth Venture mean to you? Will you sign up next year?  

United Way Youth Venture means that as a younger person, I am able to help out and make a difference in our community. I may not have been able to do that without this program. Yes, I am planning to sign up again next year, because I love interacting with everyone in the program. I also love helping out those who need it. 

Is there anything else you would like to share? 

I hope everyone who is reading this is doing well in their own time at home. If you are sick, I hope you feel better soon.  

Thank you for giving us a peek inside your world Emily. Stay well, have a wonderful summer and keep up the great work with your Venture!

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