Students from New Haven and neighboring towns are joining forces to clean Long Wharf Park - in part to be a model for how to care for your community. "Regardless of the means, regardless of your socio-economic standing, regardless of background, you always have the opportunity to do something so why not start at a young age," said Gabriela Garcia-Perez.
Perez help found the Community Integration Mentoring Program, who is the group overseeing the effort, back in her sophomore year of high school with the goal to encourage fellow students to become active members of society. "I’ve gotten a great influence from my grandmother and my mom, my dad, my family, to regardless of whatever your situation is in life to know that there’s always somebody who needs more help," said Perez.
Kiera Stankewich, a student at Guilford High School, loves the feeling of helping the environment in a hands-on approach. "Before you know, you could research problems, donate, I like actually getting involved and taking action, yourself in person, is really special so I think today were able to do that," said Stankewich.
But for New Haven students this can also count towards volunteer hours and change the trajectory of their college career. "We are just so excited because these kids can get the New Haven promise, which is four years of college for free at a state university and all they need to do is get their volunteer hours," said Daniel Diaz, Coordinator for New Haven Public Schools.