As a junior at McQuaid Jesuit, our entire class was presented with a generous proposition by the Morin Foundation. The concept was simple: devise a way to help and receive money to make your innovation a reality. At the presentation, we were encouraged to think as big as we wanted, on a global scale even. My friends and I reverse-engineered this mindset and instead thought on a local level. With this attitude, “Restore the Roc” was born.
Our grant idea was this organization which would work for the betterment of the Rochester community. Much like “Habitat for Humanity”, Restore the Roc was focused on housing related endeavors for the less fortunate. We differed in that we would not handle the structural projects for which habitat is known. Instead, we wished to concentrate our efforts on the exterior aesthetic value of existing homes. Our hope is that by improving the exteriors of homes where it is much needed, the value of the individual home, and eventually the
surrounding area, would increase.
I did not know it at the time, but the skills I learned from this project were invaluable to me as I completed high school and went on to college. Primarily, I learned that we need not look far in order to find a need. Our organization focused on a need in our own city, one most people would not even consider. This lesson was invaluable because it taught me to constantly work for the betterment of the world. I learned that there is always something to be done and I was inspired to work for the betterment of my community and the world.
I learned the importance of teamwork through our efforts. In addition to myself, two friends, Luke Kusmierz and John Lawless, were co-founders of the organization. Our work required us to partner with various non-for- profits and organizations in Rochester, mostly in order to find people who needed, and were eligible for, our services. My interactions with my friends and these organizations taught me the value of relying on others. We found that we had exponentially greater success when we divided the work and let each member use his talents.
This lesson has already been, and continues to be, invaluable as I have had more experience with group projects in college. My experience with Restore the Roc was eye opening and the lessons I learned as a result cannot be overvalued. As a junior in high school, I was able to have real world experiences with non-for- profits in Rochester and I learned more than can be mentioned here about how social work operates as an industry. I hope only to use these lessons to my advantage in the future, and wish nothing less than that for yourselves.