By Ed HarrisEditor
Southington Town Wide Effort to Promote Success (STEPS) has developed a new website to help people, especially the youth in town, to find community service opportunities.
Preparation for Southington Serves began in December, with the help of the STEPS Youth Council. The site went live last month and can be found through the town’s official website, Southington.org.
“I felt that there should be a simple and easy way for people, especially my age, to be able to find community service opportunities,” said Sarah Lamb, a freshman at Southington High School who serves on the STEPS Youth Council.
Sarah presented the idea for the website during an interview for the Youth Council last summer. Youth Service Council Chairperson Evelyn Ciaburri thought the idea was brilliant and helped Sarah run with it.
They brainstormed volunteer opportunities, asked the town if it would be willing to host the page, discussed liability issues with Town Attorney Mark Sciota and worked with Clerk Erika Butler who runs the town’s website.
“Sarah was a part of every step and decision in the process,” said Ciaburri. “I think that was really important because she learned a lot about website design, the skills it takes to complete a big project such as this, helped her make connections with positive role models in town and gave her a perspective on law, graphic design, community outreach and experience in a project leadership role.”
Next, the duo advertised and promoted the website. Over 80 letters were sent out to organizations and places in town that might be able to provide opportunities, posters were placed in over 30 places around town, including the middle schools and high school and guidance teachers were brought on board.
In May, Sarah and Ciaburri will meet with principals from Kennedy, DePaolo and Southington High Schools to find a way to fit the website into advisory session that will take place at the school. May is youth as resources month in the district.
The site will mainly list non-profit and not-for-profit organizations that are looking for volunteers. Some of the volunteer opportunities include helping out a bingo night, dance or pasta supper, clerical work and a few more active opportunities to volunteer.
“We wanted to create a “one-stop-shop” centralized location for youth volunteer opportunities,” Ciaburri said.
The website has enjoyed a well reception, even though it is only about a month old. Sarah said that both the volunteers and the groups seeking volunteers have welcomed the site.
“The site has been really well received so far, and Youth Services has already been able to direct students to the page,” Sarah said. “Lots of organizations such as Save the Sound, Bread for Life, and the local fire department have postings on the site now as well, so everyone is thrilled that we have had good reception on that end of things, too.”
The website has a submission form at the bottom of the page that groups can fill out and then send to firstname.lastname@example.org for posting on the site.