As we continue to practice social distancing during the COVID-19 Pandemic, I am reaching out to a few of our Youth Venture Champions to see how and what they are doing. The following is my interview with Samoset Middle School’s Youth Venture Champion, Francine Meigs.
Spotlight On Samoset’s Youth Venture Champion Francine Meigs
How long have you been a Champion for UWYV? What do you like best about having this role?
I believe I have been a Champion for the last 6 years; however, I have been an Ally since the program began in 2002. I truly enjoy supporting, advocating, and empowering Venturers. They can make a difference – they are changemakers.
How are you doing? What does a typical day-at-home look like for you?
My family and I are doing well. A typical day-at-home starts with feeding Dusty and Misty, our 2 kitties, and checking all my e-mail messages. I spend time responding to parent, student, and staff emails, attending scheduled Google Chat and Zoom virtual meetings, doing required paperwork and overseeing remote learning. In between, I call or text to check on family. When the weather is nice, I go for a walk or out to the yard to rake. At the end of the day, I might watch a movie and read before heading to bed.
How has the stay-at-home/social distancing of COVID-19 affected you positively?
I have had healthier habits since staying at home. I have been spending more time with the family and my kitties, going to bed earlier, reading more at night, contacting family and friends more often, and I have started to declutter closets. I am not tech savvy, but over the past few weeks, I have learned how to set up and participate in Zoom and Google Chat/Hangouts meetings. I have even improved my ability to use Google Drive.
Do you have a positive Changemaking story that has resulted from this?
I have been sharing community resources with parents and advocating for the elderly (my parents and their neighbors in their public housing development). I have contacted health and social service agencies in the Boston area to ensure that the elderly have access to food and someone to check their overall well-being.
Are you able to connect with your students remotely? (Zoom? Google Classroom, or email?) How are they?
Yes, I have been able to connect with my students via Google Classroom, Google Chat/Hangouts, e-mail, and phone. I even delivered e-learning packets to the homes of students who were not in school to get them. I am so grateful, that my students and their families are doing well and finding ways to mix remote learning along with family time and down time.
Are you in touch with any Youth Venture teams? If so, what are they up to?
I have spoken with several Venturers. I hope to be in touch with Venture Teams soon.
On a positive note, I want to share that Carlos Rolon, the young boy who was in Children’s Hospital, received a heart over the weekend. (For more details on Carlos and how Samoset students reached out to him, check out this post.)
If Youth Venture was offered to you as a young student, what would your cause be and why?
If I could have been a part of Youth Venture when I was a young, I would have worked with other people to create a venture to help students and adults (the elderly) in need. I believe I would have been part of a CARE Team that set up free tutoring sessions for struggling learners or an outreach team that would visit senior centers, assisted living centers or nursing homes to read, play games, do crafts, or walk with senior citizens.
In reflection, my first venture into community service came when I was 14 years old. The religious group I belonged to encouraged everyone to do something kind for others. I chose to do something for the children at Shriner’s Hospital in Springfield, MA. I crocheted 100 bunny rabbit pins for the children who were there as a way to bring Easter or Spring to them. These children were recovering or awaiting surgery and would not be going home for the Easter holiday. They did not have holiday decorations in their rooms. It was a lot of work, but I remember how good it felt mailing that package to the hospital. I received a thank you from the social worker and a few letters from the children. I truly believe this one event sparked my love for community service and community service learning.
What message would you like to send all of your students?
I would like all of my students to know that not only do I miss them, but I care about the health and well-being of each of them and their families. Even though we aren’t seeing each other daily, I think about them often.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
This is an unusual time. Staying at home all the time is difficult, but it’s important that we remember to do something kind each day. “Everyone can make a difference!”
Thank you for taking the time update us Francine, and stay healthy!