"Have a lot of perseverance."
In response to demand for positive youth activities in his neighborhood, David Gaby, 50, of Springfield, MA, organized a summer program in which the neighborhood children and teens learned about their area's history and architecture.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work did/do you do?
David: I helped to
organize a Summer Youth "Heritage Education" Program for 60-100
children in the McKnight Historic District, and I am working to revive
the program and expand it to a full-year program.
What is the name and location of the organization?
David: McKnight Homeowners Association, Inc., 21 Clarendon Street, Springfield, MA 01109.
Tell us about the project, especially who benefited from this work.
David: The project
combined talents of community volunteers and part-time staffers with a
local historian to provide an annual six-week recreation and education
program for kids ages 6-13 and teenage youth volunteer "counselors in
training". We had sessions about local paleontology, local prehistory,
and local history and architecture.
What inspired you to get involved?
David: People responding to "needs
assessment" surveys in the Cathedral Hill Apartments felt that getting
young people, who were basically captive in their apartments, to do
something positive was more important that other concerns. So a group
of us started working on doing that.
How did you first get involved? Give us some details.
David: This was through our local homeowners association.
What is/was the best thing about your experience?
David: The experience
of seeing people, who are usually marginalized, working effectively and
being respected by peers and young people in their community.
What is/was the hardest part?
David: It has been
hard to keep going emotionally, even with the funding obtained, due to
retaliation from various groups threatened by this program and by other
work with disempowered folks.
What was the biggest surprise?
David: The fact that the "educated" folks in the neighborhood who wouldn't participate expected to come to a meeting.
What new things have you learned as a result of your experience and how have you changed as a result?
David: That a lot of people, whom you wouldn't expect, have a lot of talent.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting involved in philanthropy or volunteering?
David: Have a lot of perseverance.
© Foundation Center
All Rights Reserved.