Leaders of Bloom Closet Gabby Mautner, Ellie Arenth and Laura Arenth encourage classmates to join their club with posters and candy. PHOTO: Alice Gash

On Sep. 15, 2021, the upper school annual community engagement club fair occurred in the gardens with over 35 student-run clubs who partner with nonprofit organizations. Each club set up a table decorated with posters and flyers as advertisement, and leaders interacted with fellow classmates to encourage students to join. Examples of clubs active at the fair were Bloom Closet, Habitat for Humanity and Helping Mamas, all oriented around a mission to help others in need. 

Bloom Closet is a nonprofit organization founded in 1986 with a goal to provide foster families and kids with basic necessities. Senior Laura Arenth has worked with Bloom Closet since seventh grade and became a club leader her freshman year. Arenth has learned many life lessons during her time with BC. “Communication has been the biggest thing I have learned because I coordinate clothing drives which means emails to the lower, middle, and upper school students and to parents,” said Arenth. By connecting with these clubs, students are taught how to communicate with others professionally through emails, announcements, and flyers. 

Founded in 1976, Habitat for Humanity is a worldwide nonprofit organization that raises money to build or buy homes for individuals or communities hit by natural disasters or in need of financial support. Senior Harper White is one of the leaders of Habitat and shared why students should join a community engagement club. “I have definitely learned how to reach out to others and how to understand people beyond the Pace bubble,” said White. Community service allows students to gain a new perspective through partnership, hands-on activities, and collaboration.

Senior Margo Kaye is the co-leader of Helping Mamas, a nonprofit organization that works to support mothers and children in poverty. Kaye has participated in community service since her freshman year. “It does not hurt to take a step back from your own life and think about others” said Kaye. “It can be a really rewarding process.” Interacting with different people across the spectrum teaches you empathy by understanding and feeling for those who have less. 

Associate Director of the Isdell Center for Global Leadership (ICGL) Ted Ward has worked with Pace to become more involved with community service. “The biggest thing that we want to get through is the word empathy, which is basically understanding someone at a level where you can feel what they are going through,” said Mr. Ward. “Engagement also allows students to connect across all kinds of silos and outside of your normal group.” Interacting in community service exposes new aspects in our environment and to different people in need. “It also allows people to step into areas outside of academic discipline” said Mr. Ward. 

Upper school students are required to complete 40 hours of community service in order to graduate, however, many students go beyond that number. “Our average last year for the senior class was about 92 hours,” said Mr. Ward. “So you know, 40 is just a bench mark.” Community engagement clubs are a chance to receive service hours, and it is inspiring to see this high number of 92 hours that exhibits how energized students are to get involved.

These clubs ultimately allow students to plug in their passions through involvement. “I think what makes Pace special is allowing students to bring parts of themselves here and share their gifts through community service,” said Mr. Ward.

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