Tag Archives: Student Organizations

Student Leader Spotlight: Eliza Marks, Page One Literacy Project


The following reflection was written by Eliza Marks ’23, the Programming Coordinator for Page One Literacy Project. Page One is a Community Engagement Organization which aims to foster a love for reading and an enthusiasm for learning among elementary school students. Page One was founded in 2000 as part of Middlebury’s bicentennial celebration. Page One has hosted weekly reading programs after school and read-a-thons, created craft kits for the Ilsley Library and Mary Hogan Elementary School, and participated in large one-time events like celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Here, Eliza shares the excitement of returning to some in-person programming and some of the upcoming opportunities that Page One is hosting. For more information about Page One, you can check out their instagram @MiddPageOne or sign up for their upcoming events at go/pageonesignups.

Over a year since the Page One Literacy Project’s last in-person event in the community, last Tuesday five volunteers went to Mary Hogan Elementary School. Page One Volunteers, including myself, wrapped over a hundred books that will be given to Mary Hogan students in all grades. November 1st marks the beginning of Mary Hogan’s annual read-a-thon, and each kid will get at least one wrapped book! Having newly joined Page One last year, I had never experienced a Page One volunteer event at a school. Although the programming was excellently adjusted to virtual events due to COVID, being able to physically go into the local community and see some of the people we were helping felt extremely rewarding. 

Page One followed up the Mary Hogan book wrapping event with a booth at the Middlebury Spooktacular. This is an annual event, hosted by The Better Middlebury Partnership, where local kids walk around town to different locations and trick or treat! Page One received a large donation from Bonnie’s Books of over 250 books to participate in this event. Volunteers, dressed in their best Halloween costumes, handed out a book (and candy!) to each kid that came by. Although it rained all day, around 250 kids engaged in the Spooktacular. The Spooktacular was an awesome way to be able to directly interact with local kids and their families. It was so exciting to see local kids and parents dressed up in fun costumes. The Spooktacular was a gratifying way to take a break from homework and spend time in the community.

Looking forward, the Page One Board has planned three events for Mary Hogan’s read-a-thon. Primarily, we are hosting a Strega Nona-themed virtual read-aloud. Page One has purchased 15 books for Mary Hogan families and fun Strega Nona-themed craft supplies. Volunteers will read Strega Nona to a group of students and lead craft activities. We are also hosting a virtual If You Give A Mouse A Cookie-themed read-aloud, where volunteers will read the story and then make paper bag mouses, paper plate cookies, and mouse ears with the kids! Our final read-a-thon event is a book club-style discussion about the Series of Unfortunate Events. Page One is donating 15 books and will host a conversation and activities related to the book. These events are virtual, but all have an in-person activity and aspect incorporated. This is a super exciting way to combine both in-person and online aspects so that volunteers can participate in whichever modality they are comfortable with, and kids can be more engaged. 

One of Page One’s goals is to maximize connections within the community. This fall marks the transition from exclusively virtual to hybrid programming. I am extremely excited to see how volunteers can work with the community to facilitate fun, safe, and rewarding events with local kids.

Moving Forward

7 people sit around a table on a the screened-in porch of the Center for Community Engagement. They are sitting so that they can view a large TV which shows a Zoom screen where other members have joined them for a meeting.
Privilege & Poverty interns gather in person and via Zoom on the Center for Community Engagement porch.

The last year and a half has been a time of innovation and creativity for our student-led Community Engagement Organizations and staff-led programs. Traditional models of engagement typically include in-person volunteerism, community building, and face to face interactions that were not possible during the last three semesters. In order to maintain long-lasting relationships with community partners and continue to engage with the Middlebury community when it was needed most, many student organizations shifted to virtual or socially-distanced outdoor programming. As we move forward in the 2021-2022 academic year, COVID-19 protocols have shifted to reflect a highly vaccinated population while still accounting for community spread of COVID-19 variants. With these policy changes, student organizations have continued to innovate and grow.

For some organizations, virtual & socially-distanced programming opened up a world of new possibilities and projects. Nutrition Outreach & Mentoring (NOM) traditionally hosted in-person taste-tests and cooking demonstrations with local elementary schools to educate youth about healthy eating and cooking habits. During COVID, they developed cooking classes via Zoom and provided schools with ingredients to send home with students so that they could cook along at home. NOM also created a community garden at Mary Hogan Elementary where Middlebury students could engage with each other in person, without interacting in-person with children who aren’t eligible for vaccinations yet. Another Community Engagement Organization, The Special Olympics Club, moved programming outside and enjoyed the lovely weather by hosting outdoor walks and basketball games with Special Olympics Vermont athletes. Many of the 1:1 and group mentorship programs like Community Friends and Sister to Sister moved their mentor/mentee meetings and activities to Zoom so they could continue to connect with youth while maintaining physical distance. Other organizations opted for outdoor, socially-distanced, & masked gatherings when possible. Page One Literacy Project, an organization focused on encouraging a love of reading and learning among elementary students, participated in the Drive-Thru Spooktacular event hosted by the Better Middlebury Partnership and provided books & craft kits for more than 600 families during the pandemic. 

Middlebury College Access Mentors (MiddCAM), shared that they were able to successfully transition to completely remote programming during the pandemic and provide weekly mentor/mentee meetings online, as well as drop-in sessions for local high school students via Zoom. Though MiddCAM is excited for their mentorship pairs to have the option to meet in person again and host fun (and delicious) mentor meet-up events, all mentor pairs are given the choice of how they’d like to meet and some mentor pairs are still meeting virtually to accommodate busy schedules. These changes allow programming to be more accessible to the communities students are working with.

For some students, COVID-19 illuminated new opportunities for community engagement. Middlebury Volunteer Tutors (Midd VT) was founded during COVID to address the lack of educational support opportunities for youth in Addison County and to express “solidarity and gratitude for the deep care staff and faculty members have always given to students”. They created a network of Middlebury College students ready to support Middlebury employees’ K-12 children with tutoring services and were an important resource for the Middlebury College community during the pandemic. 

As the CCE returns to in-person programming with vaccinated populations, our Community Engagement Organizations are ready to take the lessons learned, grappling with what worked and what didn’t, from COVID-19 and build upon their traditional models to create new, exciting, and more accessible programming that encompasses the best of both worlds.

Complementing Community-Based Experiences: How the CCE Supports Students’ Civic Learning

Through the CCE’s Service Cluster Board (SCB) trainings, Civic Leadership Certificate (CLC) cohort, and civic skill building Winter Term Workshop (WTW), students in Middlebury College’s 17 student service organizations develop their leadership knowledge and capacities. These experiences complement their community-based experiences, helping them to become effective leaders and change agents during their time at Midd and beyond. 

During monthly SCB trainings, two student leaders from each organization learn resources for organizational and leadership development, such as how to manage conflict or practice inclusive member recruitment. CLC cohort members amplify this learning with additional reflections and workshops that allow them to connect with other passionate leaders, design cohesion across their service and learning experiences, and focus on social-issue-specific areas of their choosing.

Here are two examples of the kinds of trainings we’ve supported in 2020 so far!

Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops
As the first Winter Term Workshop (WTW) of its kind, Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops equipped students with tools to become effective facilitators of skill-building workshops for their peers. Five students participated in this workshop, each with connections to one or many Service Cluster Board organizations and several as members of the Civic Leadership Certificate cohort: Zeke Hodkin ’21 (MiddVote), Sophia Johnson ’22 (WildMidd and CLC), Viv Merril ‘22.5 (WildMidd and CLC),
Gardner Olson ’22 (Community Friends and CLC), and Chloe Zinn ’22 (DREAM).

The CLC cohort reflects during an initial meeting and workshop outside of Axinn at the beginning of the Fall Semester.

During the first three weeks of J-Term, these five students worked together to select civic skills that intrigued them and then co-designed interactive workshops around them to build that skill with others. With facilitation from CCE Assistant Director Kailee Brickner-McDonald and CCE AmeriCorps VISTA member Ellie Dickerson ’19, participants dove into resources on their selected civic skills and learned principles of designing quality curricula and practices of effective workshop facilitation.

Participants then had the opportunity to facilitate their workshops to leaders of all Service Cluster Board organizations, such as Brother to Brother, Butch’s Team, Juntos, MAlt, and NOM. Their three, 40-minute long workshops addressed Leadership Styles, Project Management, and Coordinated Leadership, and as part of the SCB training in the final week of J-Term. SCB members attending the workshops appreciated the “change of pace” in having student-led presentations, finding it both exciting and refreshing.

Sophia Johnson ’22 and Viv Merril ‘22.5 facilitate a Leadership Styles for Collaboration for SCB members during the last week of J-Term.

Students were able to acquire useful skills not just by attending the workshops but by being a part of the process of creating such workshops. As Kailee Brickner-McDonald explains, “Two of the best ways to deepen understanding of a skill is to practice it and teach it to others. Between the Winter Term Workshop on workshop facilitation and the facilitation experience itself on a particular skillset, our participants got to do both.”

Participating in the Winter Term Workshop helped students to recognize their strengths and weaknesses, allowing them to build on their personal leadership strengths and styles while also gaining skills and confidence in areas they didn’t feel so strong in, such as facilitation. One participant stated: “My comfort guiding a workshop (especially one with my peers present) grew exponentially through this WTW and final facilitation exercise… [the CCE staff] encouraged us to think with so much advance attention to necessary items, time constraints, and approach to the materials. I feel like my skill-set for learning and teaching grew widely in this WTW.”

My comfort guiding a workshop (especially one with my peers present) grew exponentially through this WTW and final facilitation exercise.

Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops Participant

The experience taught DREAM Co-Chair Chloe Zinn ’22 her that empathy and intention are just as important as quality curricula in creating effective educational presentations. She stated: “I learned that it takes effort and care to truly get through to an audience, and even more challenging workshops can be facilitated well with intention and genuine empathy.”

I learned that it takes effort and care to truly get through to an audience, and even more challenging workshops can be facilitated well with intention and genuine empathy.”

Chloe Zinn ’22, DREAM Student Leader and Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops Participant

Social Issue Panels to Dive Deeper

In addition to building students’ civic leadership skills, the Service Cluster Board and Civic Leadership Certificate programs also enhance students’ ability to support their community partners and connect their experiential learning with their academic understanding of social issues. Sixty seven organization leaders and members came together on Wednesday, February 26 to learn from two sets of community partner, alumni, and faculty panelists who discussed the topics: Engaging with Youth and Mentoring and Accessing Addison County’s Resources. Consisting of three experts each, the panels sought to deepen students’ understanding of social issues and local contexts to better support their personal and/or organizational work in the community. Students submitted their questions in advance, leading to interactive and insightful conversations in both panels. Ellie Dickerson ’19 (CCE AmeriCorps VISTA) developed and coordinated the event.

Engaging with Youth & Mentoring panelists included Laura Basili, a Middlebury College Visiting Faculty member a clinical psychologist whose therapeutic work focuses on children and adolescents living with adversity, illness, and loss; Mel Hurlburt, DREAM Program Director; and Elizabeth Burrows, an Addison Central School District counselor with more than 25 years of experience in the field. The panelists addressed critical questions about working with youth who have had adverse childhood experiences, engaging in meaningful conversations about difficult topics, and encouraging healthy behaviors without being overbearing, among others.

Panelists answer students’ questions during the Engaging with Youth & Mentoring panel on February 26 in Axinn.

Students will be able to apply the wisdom and resources from the panel in their work with community youth, strengthening relationships and enhancing the many socio-emotional, cognitive, and identity development benefits of mentorship. Speaking to those benefits, the panelists served as source of inspiration and reflection for students, reminding them why they became mentors in the first place. In the words of one student: “I loved having them here…it reminded me that what I’m doing is important and refreshed the patience I have with my mentee.”

I loved having [the panelists] here…it reminded me that what I’m doing is important and refreshed the patience I have with my mentee.”

Engaging with Youth & Mentoring Panel Particpant

Conversation in the Accessing Addison County’s Resources panel was similarly robust. Leading the panel were HOPE’s Local Food Access Coordinator Lily Bradburn, WomenSafe Services Director Christina Grier, and recent Midd graduate Luna Shen ‘19.5, a current AmeriCorps member at John Graham Shelter in Vergennes. Bringing a range of experiences and expertise, these three panelists offered many insights into Addison County’s most pressing social issues. The panelists’ broad overview of local issues and support networks was especially helpful for the many students who work closely with one or two local organizations but aren’t necessarily aware of other issues or the many ways community partners work together to address them. The panel also allowed for a deep dive into specific issues, such as the affordable housing crisis and the negative effects of state policies on homelessness. One participant noted that they “didn’t realize how transportation…impacted the people that live in Addison County. It’s a really large place geographically, and can be difficult if you don’t have shelter or means of transportation.”

It makes me excited that the SCB helps all student organizations deepen their connection with community, which is the reason I decided to work with the CCE in the first place!

Accessing Addison County’s Resources Panel Participant

Getting out of the Middlebury campus bubble and into the community is one of the primary reasons students get involved in CCE’s programs. As one student remarked, “It makes me excited that the SCB helps all student organizations deepen their connection with the community, which is the reason I decided to work with the CCE in the first place!” The community partner panels complemented their service experiences, deepening their knowledge and ability to engage meaningfully in their respective organizations.

Future SCB and CLC trainings this spring will include Budgeting as Storytelling on March 16th, and Leadership Transitions in April. Thanks to all who deepen their community engagement experiences by participating in our training programs!

Complementing Community-Based Experiences: How the CCE Supports Students’ Civic Learning

Through the CCE’s Service Cluster Board (SCB) trainings, Civic Leadership Certificate (CLC) cohort, and civic skill building Winter Term Workshop (WTW), students in Middlebury College’s 17 student service organizations develop their leadership knowledge and capacities. These experiences complement their community-based experiences, helping them to become effective leaders and change agents during their time at Midd and beyond. 

During monthly SCB trainings, two student leaders from each organization learn resources for organizational and leadership development, such as how to manage conflict or practice inclusive member recruitment. CLC cohort members amplify this learning with additional reflections and workshops that allow them to connect with other passionate leaders, design cohesion across their service and learning experiences, and focus on social-issue-specific areas of their choosing.

Here are two examples of the kinds of trainings we’ve supported in 2020 so far!

Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops
As the first Winter Term Workshop (WTW) of its kind, Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops equipped students with tools to become effective facilitators of skill-building workshops for their peers. Five students participated in this workshop, each with connections to one or many Service Cluster Board organizations and several as members of the Civic Leadership Certificate cohort: Zeke Hodkin ’21 (MiddVote), Sophia Johnson ’22 (WildMidd and CLC), Viv Merril ‘22.5 (WildMidd and CLC),
Gardner Olson ’22 (Community Friends and CLC), and Chloe Zinn ’22 (DREAM).

The CLC cohort reflects during an initial meeting and workshop outside of Axinn at the beginning of the Fall Semester.

During the first three weeks of J-Term, these five students worked together to select civic skills that intrigued them and then co-designed interactive workshops around them to build that skill with others. With facilitation from CCE Assistant Director Kailee Brickner-McDonald and CCE AmeriCorps VISTA member Ellie Dickerson ’19, participants dove into resources on their selected civic skills and learned principles of designing quality curricula and practices of effective workshop facilitation.

Participants then had the opportunity to facilitate their workshops to leaders of all Service Cluster Board organizations, such as Brother to Brother, Butch’s Team, Juntos, MAlt, and NOM. Their three, 40-minute long workshops addressed Leadership Styles, Project Management, and Coordinated Leadership as part of the SCB training in the final week of J-Term. SCB members attending the workshops appreciated the “change of pace” in having student-led presentations, finding it both exciting and refreshing.

Sophia Johnson ’22 and Viv Merril ‘22.5 facilitate a Leadership Styles for Collaboration for SCB members during the last week of J-Term.

Students were able to acquire useful skills not just by attending the workshops but by being a part of the process of creating such workshops. As Kailee Brickner-McDonald explains, “Two of the best ways to deepen understanding of a skill is to practice it and teach it to others. Between the Winter Term Workshop on workshop facilitation and the facilitation experience itself on a particular skillset, our participants got to do both.”

Participating in the Winter Term Workshop helped students to recognize their strengths and weaknesses, allowing them to build on their personal leadership strengths and styles while also gaining skills and confidence in areas they didn’t feel so strong in, such as facilitation. One participant stated: “My comfort guiding a workshop (especially one with my peers present) grew exponentially through this WTW and final facilitation exercise… [the CCE staff] encouraged us to think with so much advance attention to necessary items, time constraints, and approach to the materials. I feel like my skill-set for learning and teaching grew widely in this WTW.”

My comfort guiding a workshop (especially one with my peers present) grew exponentially through this WTW and final facilitation exercise.

Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops Participant

The experience taught DREAM Co-Chair Chloe Zinn ’22 that empathy and intention are just as important as quality curricula in creating effective educational presentations. She stated: “I learned that it takes effort and care to truly get through to an audience, and even more challenging workshops can be facilitated well with intention and genuine empathy.”

I learned that it takes effort and care to truly get through to an audience, and even more challenging workshops can be facilitated well with intention and genuine empathy.”

Chloe Zinn ’22, DREAM Student Leader and Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops Participant

Social Issue Panels to Dive Deeper

In addition to building students’ civic leadership skills, the Service Cluster Board and Civic Leadership Certificate programs also enhance students’ ability to support their community partners and connect their experiential learning with their academic understanding of social issues. Sixty-seven organization leaders and members came together on Wednesday, February 26 to learn from two sets of community partner, alumni, and faculty panelists who discussed the topics: Engaging with Youth and Mentoring and Accessing Addison County’s Resources. Consisting of three experts each, the panels sought to deepen students’ understanding of social issues and local contexts to better support their personal and/or organizational work in the community. Students submitted their questions in advance, leading to interactive and insightful conversations in both panels. Ellie Dickerson ’19 (CCE AmeriCorps VISTA) developed and coordinated the event.

Engaging with Youth & Mentoring panelists included Laura Basili, a Middlebury College Visiting Faculty member and clinical psychologist whose therapeutic work focuses on children and adolescents living with adversity, illness, and loss; Mel Hurlburt, DREAM Program Director; and Elizabeth Burrows, an Addison Central School District counselor with more than 25 years of experience in the field. The panelists addressed critical questions about working with youth who have had adverse childhood experiences, engaging in meaningful conversations about difficult topics, and encouraging healthy behaviors without being overbearing, among others.

Panelists answer students’ questions during the Engaging with Youth & Mentoring panel on February 26 in Axinn.

Students will be able to apply the wisdom and resources from the panel in their work with community youth, strengthening relationships and enhancing the many socio-emotional, cognitive, and identity development benefits of mentorship. Speaking to those benefits, the panelists served as source of inspiration and reflection for students, reminding them why they became mentors in the first place. In the words of one student: “I loved having them here…it reminded me that what I’m doing is important and refreshed the patience I have with my mentee.”

I loved having [the panelists] here…it reminded me that what I’m doing is important and refreshed the patience I have with my mentee.”

Engaging with Youth & Mentoring Panel Particpant

Conversation in the Accessing Addison County’s Resources panel was similarly robust. Leading the panel were HOPE’s Local Food Access Coordinator Lily Bradburn, WomenSafe Services Director Christina Grier, and recent Midd graduate Luna Shen ‘19.5, a current AmeriCorps member at John Graham Shelter in Vergennes. Bringing a range of experiences and expertise, these three panelists offered many insights into Addison County’s most pressing social issues. The panelists’ broad overview of local issues and support networks was especially helpful for the many students who work closely with one or two local organizations but aren’t necessarily aware of other issues or the many ways community partners work together to address them. The panel also allowed for a deep dive into specific issues, such as the affordable housing crisis and the negative effects of state policies on homelessness. One participant noted that they “didn’t realize how transportation…impacted the people that live in Addison County. It’s a really large place geographically, and can be difficult if you don’t have shelter or means of transportation.”

It makes me excited that the SCB helps all student organizations deepen their connection with community, which is the reason I decided to work with the CCE in the first place!

Accessing Addison County’s Resources Panel Participant

Getting out of the Middlebury campus bubble and into the community is one of the primary reasons students get involved in CCE’s programs. As one student remarked, “It makes me excited that the SCB helps all student organizations deepen their connection with the community, which is the reason I decided to work with the CCE in the first place!” The community partner panels complemented their service experiences, deepening their knowledge and ability to engage meaningfully in their respective organizations.

Future SCB and CLC trainings this spring will include Budgeting as Storytelling on March 16th, and Leadership Transitions in April. Thanks to all who deepen their community engagement experiences by participating in our training programs!

ASIA Students Attend the annual ECAASU Conference

Queenie Li ’22 writes about her and three other students’ experience in attending the East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) Conference in Pittsburgh, PA early this Spring.

Asian Students in Action (ASIA) took four undergraduate students to the East Coast Asian American Student Union conference in Pittsburgh, PA early this Spring. The annual ECAASU conference brings together various colleges to participate in workshops about the Asian and Asian Pacific Islander (AAPI) identity and diaspora, form connections between students, and to celebrate the AAPI identity. This conference is the largest and oldest conference for Asian Americans in the United States. Due to the support in part by funding from Community Engagement at Middlebury College, we were able to attend, gain knowledge, and make connections with other AAPI college students.

Nhân Huỳnh ’23, Shuyi Lin ’23, Lia Yeh ’20, and Queenie Li ‘22 pose for a photo during their free time.

Being surrounded by other AAPI students, we were empowered, reaffirmed, and felt deep sense of belonging. The conference was comprised of a diverse selection of workshops and caucuses. One workshop of note that two of us attended was entitled “Why Are We Here? The Role of Collegiate Asian Organizations,” inspiring us to reexamine ASIA’s mission and the community we serve. We left that workshop inspired and are now working to put on an inaugural AAPI conference here at Middlebury to serve colleges and folks in the northeast who were unable to attend ECAASU.

Lia Yeh ’20 with workshop facilitator and Midd alum Krysty Shen ‘17.

Of the caucuses, we were able to attend closed affinity caucuses or open caucuses about broader issues that we wanted to discuss. In light of recent news, there was a caucus dedicated to examining the coronavirus and the subsequent rise of xenophobia towards the AAPI community. The topics of discussion at ECAASU were reflective of current events as well as of continual issues that impact the AAPI community. Workshops and caucuses tackling recurrent issues offered deeper and niched perspectives that allowed for a new approach and understanding of the issues.

[The caucus focusing on coronavirus and the rise of xenophobia] was personally very powerful for me to be able share my emotions with many people and see that people share the same concern and frustration as me

Shuyi Lin ’23. an ASIA member at the ECAASU Conference

Apart from the workshops and caucuses, we found the conference valuable as it introduced us to other AAPI students from other schools. Due to our location in rural Vermont, being an AAPI student is often very isolating and we have little to no relationships with other collegiate AAPI organizations and AAPI students. The conference fostered those connections and we have left with new friends and collaborators. We are excited to have found companions and support on our journey as AAPI students. More importantly, we are thrilled to also be able to provide support to our new friends and to begin to provide support to AAPI members of the Middlebury community.

Shuyi Lin ’23, Lia Yeh ’20, Queenie Li ‘ 22, Nhân Huỳnh ’23, Rachel Jeong ’22 with members of Tufts Asian Student Coalition eat dinner together at the Conference.

Stay up to date with Asian Students in Action! Like our Facebook page (go/asiamidd/) or follow us on Instagram (@asiamidd)!

More information about ECAASU can be found here: https://www.ecaasu.org/

It’s National Mentoring Month!

Middlebury College students are involved in a myriad of community-connected organizations and activities that promote service, scholarship, and citizenship–the three tenets of our Center for Community Engagement. Today, we are excited to share the recognition garnered by one particular Middlebury student who has been a dedicated mentor in the CCE-advised, student-led, 60 years-strong mentoring program Community Friends: Nathaniel Klein ’21. In honor of national mentoring month, the statewide organization Mentor Vermont selected Nathaniel and his mentee, Tanner, as one of their 2020 Vermont Ambassadors of Mentoring relationships! Here we will share highlights from their nomination. When you see Nathaniel and Tanner around campus, give them a cheer!

Nathaniel and Tanner during Halloween

Nathaniel has been a mentor in Community Friends for three years now. He has been matched with his mentee, Tanner, for the past two years. They continue to spread joy to each other and to others wherever they go on campus. They play sports together, build elaborate forts in the forest, go on scavenger hunts, and spend a relaxing time just sharing meals together. 

Nathaniel has been a mentor in Community Friends for three years now. He has been matched with his mentee, Tanner, for the past two years. They continue to spread joy to each other and to others wherever they go on campus. They play sports together, build elaborate forts in the forest, go on scavenger hunts, and spend a relaxing time just sharing meals together. 

Community Friends Coordintators, Kira Waldman ’20 and Jacob Freedman ‘21

Although Nathaniel is undoubtedly strong due to his position as captain of the rugby team and top shot-put thrower on the varsity track and field tea, his real strength lies on the inside. His ability to challenge existing narrative tropes about masculinity and his guidance on impressionable young men such as Tanner show his inner strength. Nathaniel and Tanner have developed a close mentoring relationship that allows them to freely express their emotions with and gratitude for each other. They show that expressing one’s emotions and talking through one’s challenges is an important part of growing up and life in general. 

In college, most of the work I do feels somewhat intangible because homework assignments have little meaning outside of school. Mentoring has given me a chance to enjoy myself while creating positive change in my community friends life; if you can change one life, you change the world.

Nathaniel Klein ‘21

Nathaniel and Tanner’s relationship not only reflects their respect and support for each other, it also captures their commitment to being engaged community members of Addison County. Thanks for your dedication to this meaningful relationship, Nathaniel, and thanks to Kira Waldman ’20 and Jacob Freedman ‘21, student coordinators of Community Friends, who composed and submitted Nathaniel’s nomination for the Mentor Vermont recognition.

Celebrate mentoring and read more about other inspiring relationships across Vermont at https://www.mentorvt.org/ambassadors-of-mentoring/

DREAM Mentors Support Middlebury Youth

DREAM college student mentors support Middlebury youth living in two low-income neighborhoods through guidance and friendship, creating a lasting impact.

DREAM (Directing through Recreation, Education, Adventure, and Mentoring) is a national non-profit organization based in Vermont that aims to “close the opportunity gap for children in low-income housing” through mentoring and steady involvement opportunities. DREAM supports and partners with the DREAM Middlebury College student organization that pairs college students with youth from affordable housing neighborhoods.

Middlebury College student mentors play with youth mentees at the
Virtue Athletic Field House and help get out the Friday wiggles!

DREAM offers a variety of programs that help enrich the lives of young children who otherwise would not have as much access to out-of-school learning opportunities compared to their higher-income counterparts. The work DREAM does with children is only partially based on college campuses– other programs are Camp DREAM–which is free for all eligible youth in DREAM–Teen and College Preparatory, and Summer Enrichment.

DREAM’s partnership with Middlebury College seeks to address the opportunity gap here in Addison County by partnering student mentors with DREAM youth. Student mentors meet with the children each Friday afternoon to play games and build relationships. DREAM with Middlebury College engages in both group mentoring (primarily) and one-on-one mentoring.

Casey Thomas, the DREAM Community Organizer and AmeriCorps VISTA Member this year, is supporting student mentors and mentees within the DREAM program. He acts as a liaison between the National DREAM Office and the Middlebury Program and facilitates fun activities for the amazing Middlebury youth they work with.

“There are moments when you work with youth, especially those in need, when you make a deep personal connection that can change their life and yours. The kids we work with, like all kids, need positive role models in their lives and the mentors can be that positive force. Our program not only serves our youth, but also the mentors who grow and feel the monumental impact of helping others.”

Casey Thomas, Middlebury DREAM Community Organizer and AmeriCorp VISTA Member

This program seeks to create a positive relationship between youth and adults built in trust and support. Janice Zhang ‘20.5, Outgoing DREAM Co-Chair, attests to the positive impact that DREAM has left her as well as on the children she’s worked with:

“The best part of being a DREAM Co-Chair was being able to see my hard work pay off every Friday and seeing how much the kids enjoy our company. I have learned that, at the end of the day, DREAM is all about having fun and that you don’t have to take yourself too seriously. This truly is an incredible experience.”

Janice Zhang ‘20.5, Outgoing DREAM Co-Chair

DREAM believes that the “opportunity gap is a root cause of why almost half of low-income children become low-income adults.” Guidance and support from loving adults is vital in helping youth become more than what their situation and bigger systems of inequality can limit them to be.

Interested in becoming a DREAM mentor? Please contact Casey Thomas at cthomas@dreamprogram.org.