Community Responsive Programming → Community Service @ Pawling Library
Project Do Something wasn’t the Pawling Library’s idea. Two local teens approached the library’s Youth Services Coordinator, Ms. Nicole Curcio, with a proposal to use the library as an outlet for community service opportunities. The Pawling Library is no stranger to volunteers and community service, of course. There’s plenty for people to help out with around the library, and most days someone will stop in to shelve books, help with library programs, or sort donations for the annual book sale. But Angela Hill and Ryan Walsh wanted a project they could complete in one day at one location, and they wanted to be able to choose what they worked on.
Like any good librarian, Ms. Nicole was eager to bring her library’s resources to bear to serve her population. She showed Angela and Ryan DoSomething.org, which gathers a huge selection of campaigns that teens can work on to fight poverty and discrimination, help the environment, and “everything else.” DoSomething.org’s promise is, “any cause, anytime, anywhere,” and their site features a LET’S DO IT button you can click under the challenge, “Want to make the world suck less?”
Working with Angela and Ryan and the Pawling High School, the Pawling Library began hosting Project Do Something, a weekly community service opportunity where teens choose what project to work on from the DoSomething.org site. The program has been popular with teens in Pawling, and a success on many levels. Teens are able to come to the library and get the community service hours they need in a friendly environment where they can work alongside their friends, local and far-flung organizations and people are benefiting from the work of these teens, and the community is happy to see their younger members working to help others. Even kids that don’t need the community service certificates have been coming to hang out with their friends and work on whatever project is going on that week. Project Do Something’s success has also brought opportunities for growth and new connections in the community as local organizations, hearing about the great work of the teens in Project Do Something, seek to partner with the library.
DoSomething.org has all kinds of projects to choose from and causes to work for, and a lot of them focus on helping other people by upcycling and repurposing materials that would otherwise wind up in a landfill. Some past projects at the Pawling Library include Project Linus, where teens sewed fleece blankets for distribution to homeless and displaced children, Bubble Kits, where they converted old Gatorade bottles into fun kits for distribution to needy children through the Pawling Resource Center and local family shelters, and Color a Smile, where teens worked on coloring pages for hospital patients. Upcoming projects include Cards of Hope, where teens will craft cards for distribution at their local nursing and rehabilitation center, and DIY Pet Toys, where they’ll repurpose old household items into pet toys for animals at the local SPCA.
To learn more about the project contact Ms. Nicole if you have any questions.
The Sustainability Spotlight is a weekly series that highlights community-driven, environmentally sound, and economically responsible programs and projects in libraries and other organizations. You can find more projects in the Sustainability Spotlight Archive or visit NYLA's Sustainability Initiative to learn more about how you can get started with sustainability in your library.