by Maya Arora ’20 (Loyola House)
Maya began a community service initiative in 2018–Community Voices Together. This program aims to build relationships between Trinity High School students and special needs students at Cumberland Valley High School. Maya shared her perspective regarding Community Voices Together.
What is Community Voices Together?
Community Voices Together is a volunteer program between Trinity students and special-needs students at Cumberland Valley High School. It pairs one CV student with one Trinity student. In those pairs, students perform one community service activity and one social activity each meeting. Meetings occur each month after school at CV High School. This past meeting, we made cards for nursing homes and watched Incredibles 2 while playing card games.
What inspired you to start the program?
I was inspired to start the program for two reasons. The first was because of my interest in pediatric neurology, which involves work with special-needs kids. Since I’ve gone to parochial school for the majority of my life, I haven’t worked with kids in special education before. I wanted the opportunity to do this, so I created it for myself. The second reason was that I wanted to integrate community service into the lives of special-needs students who usually don’t have as many opportunities as other high school kids.
With a few visits under your belt, what effects have you seen? Both in THS and CV students?
We have only had two meetings so far, but personally, all the Trinity students have raved about how much they love working with the CV students. I think the Trinity students gain an experience not available to them otherwise. The CV students are able to make out-of-school friends and participate in a club that is fun and gives back.
What have been some challenges in getting this program off the ground?
When I first got the idea for the program in late July, I started emailing the administration at Cumberland Valley, and I didn’t receive a response for almost two months. I finally got an email back and the director of special education, Mr. Justin Flickinger, set up a conference call with me. After that, it was meetings and emails for another three months before our first meeting. Student participation has probably been the most difficult because there are only about 10 Trinity students participating. I would like to expand the program but students have trouble committing to the monthly meetings. Funds were also an issue until I received a donation from a connection through Trinity. That donation opened up a lot of doors and lifted a weight off my shoulders.
What is your hope for the future of this program?
I hope that this program takes off in the coming years and the participation grows so everyone in the school is participating or knows someone who participates. It’s an amazing program and it would be a great chance for most Trinity students to try something new.
Students interested in volunteering should contact Maya here.