Foundation scholarship enables Fordham student to pursue dream internship at NYC’s Museum of Modern Art

Monday, December 15th, 2014

By Kelsey Butler*

Jessica Wendroff

Jessica Wendroff

For one Fordham University photography student, her college experience became slightly more picture perfect when she got the chance to pursue a dream internship. Jessica Wendroff, a double major in communication and media studies with a concentration in film, and visual arts with a concentration in photography, was able to achieve her goal of interning at the Museum of Modern Art in New York after winning the Casey A. Feldman Memorial Scholarship.

The scholarship was established at Fordham University where Casey was a senior at the time of her death, to assist students with finances so that they could gain valuable experience in their field by taking advantage of internship opportunities. Without the $2500 stipend, Jessica would have had to forgo the unpaid internship at the museum for part-time employment to help cover college expenses.

Jessica was able to spend her time at the Museum of Modern Art this past spring researching, organizing and correcting images for exhibits.  According to Jessica, “I was able to solely focus on my internship and thoroughly enjoy and absorb it, instead of having to juggle work and the experience.  The money helped fund my transportation and food, as well as allow me to buy a small subscription of Photoshop, so that I could practice what was being taught to me from home.  I was also able to buy more memory cards and camera equipment so that I could take more photographs and with better quality.”

Jessica Wendroff and Fordham professor & mentor to Casey, Dr. Elizabeth Stone at the Fordham Sr. Leadership Awards Banquet

Jessica Wendroff and Fordham professor & mentor to Casey, Dr. Elizabeth Stone at the Fordham Sr. Leadership Awards Banquet

Jessica, who graduated from Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus in 2014, and has just completed travels to various countries to take street photographs, said her time at the school has given her experiences that she intends to carry with her in her career and beyond.

These include serving as an orientation leader and darkroom assistant at the university, as well as participating in Fordham’s Emerging Leaders program. Additionally, Jessica has volunteered at Free Arts NYC, which provides arts-based mentoring programs for young people.

She adds that the internship and award have also had a profound impact on her:

I am extremely grateful for having been granted this opportunity and have nothing but warm thoughts and gratitude for the Feldman family,” she said. “I feel that the experience helped move from where I wanted to be to where I needed to be and was definitely a catalyst for growth, both visually and intellectually. All in all, the experience helped carve an intern into a tech-savvy career woman with a heightened aesthetic sense and judgment. I am eternally appreciative for having an experience that not only bettered my resume, but my mind and the way I view the world and photography.

Fordham Professor Stephen Kalisky said Jessica stood out in his effective speaking class and called her “one of the true delights” of the semester because of her sense of humor and impressive work ethic.

“I often say that regardless of where they start, I want all of my students to move 10 feet forward during their semester with me,” he wrote in a recommendation letter. “Jessica leaped and bound past 10 feet. I haven’t encountered many students who overcame their blocks with such efficiency and determination.”

Please make a donation to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that additional students may experience their dream internship.

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*casey & kelseyKelsey Butler was one of Casey’s best friends and roommate at Fordham University. She works as a financial journalist in New York.

 

I Have a Dream – “This was the best and most beneficial summer of my life”

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

By Jamie Gallagher*

indexAll of the Casey Feldman Foundation scholarship recipients have dreams, be it short term or for the future – for themselves, their community or the world. Elizabeth, “Ellie” Roberts got this opportunity, literally, through a Public Interest Internship Experience (PIIE) scholarship funded by The Casey Feldman Foundation to work this past summer with the non-profit I Have A Dream (IHAD) Foundation of Boulder County. The PIIE program at the University of Colorado Boulder (where Casey’s brother, Brett is a student) aims to encourage civic leadership by providing students with a stipend to intern with a nonprofit or public agency, organizations that may not otherwise be able to provide compensation for a student intern.

ellie roberts

Ellie Roberts

IHAD, where Ellie interned, is dedicated to helping low-income youths achieve a brighter future through a long-term, comprehensive educational and cultural enrichment program. The IHAD Foundation “adopts” groups of 50 low-income students, “Dreamers” in third grade who are deemed to be at high risk of dropping out of school. They hire a project coordinator and establish a learning center exclusively for that group and provide the Dreamers a year-round program of tutoring, mentoring, after-school enrichment, computer technology training, life and social skills, and college and career preparation until they finish high school. The Dreamers ultimately receive a four-year tuition-assistance scholarship for college or vocational school.

Elizabeth stated that she “fell in love with IHAD. Their mission, results, and passion [are] addicting and amazing.”

Ms. Roberts is a full-time student, a CU Student Government Tri-Executive, and works part time to fund her living expenses all while maintaining a 4.0 academic grade point average. Elizabeth will be graduating in May with a bachelor’s degree in communications as well as an elementary education license.

While interning with IHAD, Ms. Roberts worked with students, created lessons, taught classes, assisted with daily logistics and worked on individual projects assigned by the Program Director and Vice President of Programs. Elizabeth stated that this internship “reaffirmed the fact that I know I want to work in the education field and I want to spend every day for the rest of my life fighting to make sure low-income youth in our community have the same opportunities as their more privileged peers.”

After graduating, Elizabeth hopes to be a teacher or work for a nonprofit that focuses on education equality or education reform.

Ms. Roberts is grateful for the opportunity afforded her by the Casey Feldman Foundation Scholarship. “Everyday was new and exciting. Every day was fast-paced, compelling, enriching, and extremely beneficial to my future career goals and me as a person…Thank you for supporting the CU PIIE Program and for supporting me. This was the best and most beneficial summer of my life.”

Please DONATE to the Casey Feldman Foundation to help other students realize their dreams.

Related Links:

PIIE Awards First Casey Feldman Memorial Scholarship 

PIIE Scholarship Recipient Aids Non-Profit Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center

Parents Making a Difference at CU-Boulder

 

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jamie and caSEY

Casey & Jamie (R)

*Jamie Gallagher is Casey’s cousin. She and Casey were best friends and like sisters.  Jamie is currently an attorney with the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office in NJ.

“The struggle that I have seen my mother go through is my motivation to achieve my dreams”

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

By Dianne L. Anderson

Priyanka Sharma Guragain 2014 CU Alt Sp Brk

Priyanka Guragain

Priyanka Guragain is one of those young people who the Casey Foundation Foundation takes great pride in calling one of our scholarship recipients. She applied for a scholarship stipend in her freshman year in college to take an “Alternative Spring Break” trip, where she could spend the week working, being of service. She didn’t want one of those spring breaks trips to Cancun, to relax and “party”, even if she could have afforded it.

Now a sophomore sociology major, Priynaka came to this country from Nepal six years ago with her mother and younger brother to establish a better life.  In addition to a heavy course load, Priyanka works part time time throughout the school year and full time in the summer so that she can help to meet her needs and those of her younger brother. Priyanka’s mother, a single parent, considers Priyanka her “right hand” and second guardian to her younger brother.  Leaving behind a career in Nepal, Priynanka’s ‘s mother struggles financially here, with half of her salary going to pay for Priynaka’s college tuition.

The CU volunteer students on Catatlina Island

The CU volunteer students on Catalina Island

” I have felt the pressure of huge expectations and dreams that my mother carries for me. As I began college last fall, I used those dreams as my strength to get through college,” said Priyanka. “The struggle that I have seen my mother go through is my motivation to achieve my dreams,”  she added.

The service trip that Priyanka  chose was an environmental trip, working with the Catalina Island Conservancy in California, helping to protect and restore one of the world’s most magnificent islands. While there, Priyanka and a dozen or so other students from University of Colorado Boulder removed invasive plants, performed trail maintenance and removed fences on the steep hillsides surrounding parts of the island.

Priyanka chose this trip because of her appreciation of nature and the environment, and to learn more about environmental conservation, “I have seen the beautiful rural areas of Nepal, but unfortunately, because of its political turmoil,  environmental conservation has not been a focus of the citizens there.” said Priyanka.

Students embracing the beauty of Catalina Island

Students embracing the beauty of Catalina Island

With what little extra time she has, Priynaka is involved in other student organizations on campus in addition to the Volunteer Resource Center, which organized the spring break trip. She also works with Community Health and Restorative Justice. stating that ,” I don’t want to let any opportunity pass by because I want to make college a journey of knowledge and great experience….College is everything I dreamed it would be.”

Priynaka speaks four languages, Nepali, Hindi, English and Spanish and is “very curious” to try a new one.  As to her future plans, Priyanka has an interest in the Peace Corps and the United Nations.

” I am only seventeen and the accomplishments that Casey achieved with her passions encourages me to dream bigger,” stated Pryianka.

Please Donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation to help more students achieve their dreams.

 

Related Links:

“Alternative Spring Break Scholarships Fostering a Generation Who Wants to Give Back

About the Alternative Spring Break Program

“Alternative Breaks Program connects CU students to communities”

Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break Blog News (scroll down through blog for all articles)

2013 SHS Scholarship Recipient in 2nd Year at Georgetown

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

By Dianne L. Anderson

Jaclyn DiGregorio SHS 2013 scholarship recipientIt’s always great to follow up with our scholarship recipients and hear how well they are doing. Jaclyn DiGregorio, one of our Springfield High School (SHS) 2013 recipients, is no exception.

Jaclyn is currently in her second year at Georgetown University studying Marketing and International Business in the McDonough School of Business. In addition to her rigorous course load which she reports as “interesting”, Jaclyn is working in a marketing internship where she is gaining valuable hands-on experience in her major.

Jaclyn is also heavily involved in her sorority at Georgetown, Kappa Kappa Gamma (KKG), where she is New Member Chair, responsible for welcoming all new members and helping them “get up to speed” with the work of KKG at Georgetown.

Jaclyn graduated 4th in her class at SHS. She was a member of the National Honor Society, PEER Facilitators, National Language Honor Society and the Hi-Q. She has also served as class officer of the class of 2013 for three years and was chairperson for the Steve Stefani Dance Marathon, becoming the most successful leader in its history, leading her peers and community to raise over $194,000 for pediatric cancer patients.

Way to go Jaclyn! We thank your SHS teacher, Dr. William Harley, for recommending you for the scholarship that bears Casey’s name.

Please donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation to help more students achieve their dreams.

 

 

Meet Valerie Vecchione, Our Springfield High School 2014 Scholarship Recipient

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Valerie Vecchione SHS 14'By Dianne L. Anderson

“Val is a terrific young woman who possesses many of the qualities that Casey did as a student here at SHS,” stated Springfield High School (SHS) Director of Bands, Scott Blanford in nominating Valerie Vecchione for the 2014 Casey Feldman Foundation SHS scholarship. “She has a natural talent to perform, a superior work ethic, excellent leadership qualities, and is caring, supportive, and just a downright good person.” SHS teacher, Lisa Shughart, who also nominated Valerie, stated that Val is a ” loving, caring, young woman who holds much promise.”

Valerie has used her scholarship proceeds toward West Chester University where she is currently in the first semester of her freshman year, studying to become an elementary school teacher.

While at SHS, Valerie was involved in multiple activities. She held the leadership position of Guard Captain of the SHS Marching Band. In that position, she consistently demonstrated the ability to work hard behind the scenes, perform under pressure in front of thousands of people, and connect positively with her peers. Valarie constantly put the focus on the members of the guard and demonstrated “an amazing level of loyalty and honestly with her peers,” added Mr. Blanford. “The students in the band looked to her for her leadership, guidance, and support.”

As an active participant in the music program while at SHS, Valerie was also a member of the indoor guard and school choirs. She has also participated in the SHS Dance Marathon, an annual event that has raised over $225,000 in the last 13 years for the Hershey Medical Center’s Four Diamonds Fund.

In her aspiration to become a teacher, Valerie has taken advantage of summer activities to become involved in different ways with her chosen profession.  As a sophomore she volunteered with StageStormers, a children’s summer theater program that she herself was active in during her grade school and middle school years. As a high school volunteer there, she assisted the director with teaching the children their lines, singing, and games. As a junior and following her senior year, Val volunteered in Scenic Hills Elementary School’s summer program helping students with reading, math, and other assignments.

Last but not least, Valerie volunteered after her freshman year in high school with CatNip Animal Rescue, one of the many causes particularly near and dear to Casey’s heart. While at the animal rescue, Val helped to nurture sick and/or injured cats and kittens back to health; provide information to potential adopters and others; and, place homeless cats with their forever families.

We at the Casey Feldman Foundation could not be more honored to have Valerie Vecchione as the 2014 recipient of the SHS scholarship that bears Casey’s name. We also could not agree more completely with Mr. Blanford in his comment that Valerie  “will continue to become a well-rounded, compassionate, and responsible citizen of the global community.”

Thank you SHS’s Scott Blanford and Lisa Shughart for nominating this outstanding young woman! And, best wishes Valerie,  for your success in college and ultimately as an elementary school teacher.

Please donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation to help more students achieve their dreams.

Casey Feldman Foundation 2013 Cappies Scholarship to Annina Baker; John Gildea Recognized; Springfield High School Wins Best Play

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Annina Baker at the Cappies Gala. Photo Credit: Gavin Baker Photography

This years local “Tony Awards” night for theater students from some 39 participating area high schools – the Greater Philadelphia Cappies Gala – included the third annual Casey Feldman Foundation Scholarship which went to Annina Baker of Upper Merion High School.

An added bonus at the Gala came when Casey’s teacher and theater director, John Gildea, was given an award by the Cappies organization for his years  as a theater director at Springfield High School  and his  tireless efforts with the Cappies organization.  In addition, Springfield High School (SHS) won a Cappie for Best Play for their performance of Our Town, a play in which Casey also performed when she was at SHS.

The Cappies honors high school theater and journalism students. The Cappies Gala, which comes at the end of the school year, is an awards ceremony for the schools’ theater productions, in categories ranging from lighting, sound, set, and costume design, to comic actor, dancer, vocalist, and lead actor, to the coveted play and musical awards. Cappies critics, who write reviews of the schools’ shows throughout the year, are also nominated for awards. The presentation of the awards is interspersed throughout the evening at the Gala with performances from the schools nominated for Song, Play, and Musical, who perform selections from their shows. The students enter the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center on a red carpet and are clad in evening gowns and tuxedos.

The Feldman family established the Casey Feldman Foundation Cappies scholarship to honor Casey’s memory, since Casey was heavily involved in theater, journalism and the Cappies while in high school. “I am so pleased that Annina’s English and drama teacher, Laura Ebersole, nominated Annina for our scholarship,” said Joel Feldman, Casey’s father.

A surprised John Gildea from Sringfield High School accepting a Cappie award for his years of service to the theater arts

Annina has starred in musicals and plays at her school and has been a Cappies nominee twice for Comedic Actress in a Play. “On stage, Annina excels at singing, dancing, and acting. Her leading roles in Our Town, Moon Over Buffalo, and Seussical demonstrate Annina’s versatility as an actress,” wrote Laura Ebersole in her nomination. Annina has also been the Cappies lead critic from her high school and has had eight reviews published in the Philadelphia Inquirer and Times Herald , leading to a Cappies nomination for Undergraduate Female Critic.

Annina is President of her school’s National Honors Society, participates in her school’s advanced choir, and is also a member of Octagon, her school’s community service club; all while maintaining a 3.95 GPA.

Annina used her senior graduation project requirement to further delve into the arts but also help out those in need. Her “Princess Project” blended together theater and charity to entertain sick or special needs children, sharing her love of the arts with those in need. She also furthers her studies by volunteering as a Historical Interpreter at Valley Forge National Park, and participates in other community service events such as Relay for Life, benefitting the American Cancer Society.

Annina’s  scholarship will aid in her enrollment this fall at Villanova University, where she will be majoring in mechanical engineering.

“I couldn’t think of a more deserving recipient than Annina Baker for the 2013 Cappies scholarship that we established in Casey’s memory,” said Dianne Anderson, Casey Feldman’s mother.

“I am also so thrilled that John Gildea’s hard work and dedication to his students and the theater arts was recognized and that SHS won the Cappie for Best Play.”, added  Dianne. “There is  a special place in my heart for both John Gildea and the Springfield Theater Workshop. With also having the opportunity to meet our scholarship recipient, Annina Baker, I couldn’t think of a better ending to the evening.”

Please contribute to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that additional, deserving students may benefit from scholarships.

 

Related Links:

Roll out the red carpet for the Cappies awards gala,  Philly.com, May 20, 2013

Eighth annual Great Philadelphia Cappies Gala this Sunday, Delco News Network,  April 28, 2013

The Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation, Gavin Baker Photography, May 6, 2013

YouTube video –  Opening Performance at 2013 Cappies, Season of Love, from Rent

Meg Boeni Receives Second Annual Casey Feldman Foundation Cappies Scholarship, Casey Feldman Foundation News and Updates, October 2nd, 2012

Chris Price Receives First Casey Feldman Foundation Cappies Scholarship Award,  Casey Feldman Foundation News & Updates, May 17th, 2011

Casey Feldman Awarded an Honory Cappie; SHS Laramie Project Cast Wins Awards at the Cappies, Casey Feldman Foundation News & Updates, June 21st, 2010

  Photos of Casey’s high school performances and the 2006 Cappies

SHS theater family remembers beloved actress, The News of Delaware County, December 16, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Faces – 2013′s Alternative Spring Break Scholarship Recipients

Saturday, May 11th, 2013
Mikaela Aroff

Mikaela Aroff

By Dianne L. Anderson

Last month, students from the University of Colorado at Boulder spent their spring break doing service through the Alternative Spring Break program. These students used their weeklong vacation time to travel to different areas of the country to volunteer with various nonprofit organizations. This opportunity was provided to five students through scholarship stipends from the Casey Feldman Foundation. Read their stories:

Mikaela Aroff–  A senior, Mikaela is double majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology and environmental studies and is dedicated to pursuing a career in saving the environment for animals and protecting their habitat. Despite loosing her parents at the age of 14, this young woman has surged forward. Mikaela has done work with turtle conservation and fish behavior,  as well as recycling, through her employment with the CU Intermediate Unit. Mikaela currently works on campus with the Dennis Small Cultural Center, planning events focused around social justice and promoting multiculturalism and diversity. Mikaela spent her spring break in Moab, Utah with the nonprofit organization, Plateau Restoration.org working on habitat restoration, re-vegetation, erosion control, and exotic species removal.

Lee Phan

Lee Phan-   Lee’s immigrant parents came to this country with only the clothes on their back. While Lee experienced a childhood with a loving family,  sometimes there was  a shortage of the basics, including food on the table. Paying for college on her own, Lee has also found the time to include volunteer work in her schedule, reporting, “It is among my passion to give back to the underprivileged.”  Lee utilized her scholarship stipend to spend her spring week in San Francisco volunteering with Glide, an organization that serves 3 nutritious meals a day to the underprivileged. Lee’s time was also spent exploring related issues such as homelessness, poverty and economic turndown.

Charlotte Thompson

Charlotte Thompson- Charlotte works at the CU Volunteer Resource Center and hopes, upon graduation, to find work with a non-profit which addresses a social or environmental issue.  Charlotte has spent much of her young life helping others through service work, reporting that her passion for volunteering all started during her 12 years as a girl scout. Charlotte spent her alternative spring break week in Cincinnati addressing urban poverty and homelessness while working with the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. “The issue of homelessness and poverty is an issue that I hope to help fix,” reports Charlotte.

Haley DiRenzo

Hailey DiRenzo- Hailey spent her spring break working with children in Atlanta, Georgia with the Medici Project in an area where 50% of the children do not graduate from high school. She is devoted to helping children learn the value of an education and to making youth feel empowered. “I want kids to understand and feel  that no matter where they come from or what amount of money they have, they have the ability to do anything they really want to”, said Hailey. Hailey also works two part time jobs in addition to volunteering her time with youth in Boulder and ultimately hopes to go to law school and perform public service law.

Kailee Caranta

Kailee Caranta– A sophomore environmental studies major, Kailee works two jobs to help put herself through college and performs service work, including serving breakfast every other Saturday at the North Boulder Homeless Shelter. Growing up in a family where alcoholism and addiction was an issue, new clothes and luxuries did not come often. Kailee has recognized that homelessness is not just something that can happen to other people. Kailee sees medical school as an ultimate goal, wanting to be a DO and specialize as an OBGYN, “Because I am a woman wanting to help other women.”  Kailee spent her spring break week in San Francisco, as did Lee Phan, on a nutrition and wellness week working with Glide, an organization that serves 3 nutritious meals a day to the needy,  as she explored related issues such as homelessness, poverty and economic turndown.

Way to go 2013 Alternative Spring Break Scholarship recipients!

Please contribute to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that additional deserving students may experience the joy of community service.

Related Links:

Casey's parents, Joel and Dianne with the 2013 scholarship recipients

- “For some CU-Boulder students, spring break a chance to do good”,  by Brittany Anas, The Daily Camera, 3-22-2013

- University of Colorado Boulder Volunteer Resource Center (Plans and organizes Alternative Spring Break trips for students at CU)

- Plateau Restoration.org

-  Glide

- Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless

- Medici Project

- Helping our children experience the gift of helping others, article in the Fall CU Parent Newsletter by Casey Feldman’s parents, Joel Feldman and Dianne Anderson in which they discuss the establishment of the Alternative Spring Break scholarships in Casey’s memory

Casey Feldman Inspiration video , produced by CU Boulder broadcast journalism student Kylie Bearse and which aired on CU Boulder TV News, concerning the Alternative Spring Break program and the scholarships established in Casey’s memory

- Previous  articles on the Casey Feldman Foundation News and Updates about the Alternative Spring Break Program and the many scholarship recipients who have benefited

 

Foundation Establishes Computer Science Student/Non-Profit Partnership; Recipient Helps the Hungry

Monday, November 19th, 2012

By Dianne L. Anderson

Sean Wiese at the computer demonstrating BFR's new web application

Local non-profits often do not have the funds necessary to meet the technology needs necessary to advance their missions. Recognizing that need, the Casey Feldman Foundation established a program that pays stipends to computer science students to work for non-profits. The computer science student receives valuable experience and the non-profit gets a better website, necessary software applications, social media assistance, e-newsletters or blogs for their organization.

Programs have been established at a number of universities, including Villanova, the University of Colorado and Southern Connecticut State University. Non-profits that have benefitted include Gilda’ Club (support for families of cancer patients), Francisvale Home for Smaller Animals and Boulder Food Rescue (BFR).

Thousands of pounds of good food go into dumpsters each day

Sean Wiese was the first student at the University of Colorado to receive a stipend to assist a non-profit,  Boulder Food Rescue (BFR).   BFR rescues and redistributes perishable food “waste” to charities that serve homeless and at-risk individuals with the goal of helping to solve the problems of hunger, malnutrition, and food waste in the community.  Focusing on nutritious fruits and vegetables that would that would not otherwise be available to their recipients, volunteers pick up food from small and large markets, cafes, restaurants, bakeries and the University.  While doing so, they work to have minimal environmental impact by transporting the food with bicycles directly from donors to recipients. Some 170,000 pounds of produce and baked goods have been diverted from dumpsters in the last year since the organization was established.

A BFR volunteer making a pickup at Whole Foods in Boulder

This non-profit was having difficulty with scheduling between donors, recipients and its more than 70 volunteers that pick up and deliver the food. Sean Wiese, a concurrent BS/MS Computer Science major, designed a software application to meet the needs of BFR. The web application allows organizations that donate or receive food from Boulder Food Rescue to input pickup and delivery information. An intelligent planning algorithm then takes in pickups, deliveries and volunteer schedules to plan optimal pickup schedules for its volunteer force. The goal was to enable BFR to optimize its limited resources and enable it to handle more pickups. Already, the organization has increased its pickups and deliveries by hundreds of pounds per week.

 

Sean, who will be working as a software development engineer for Microsoft upon graduation in May, has already had two corporate internships during college. Asked about his experience with BFR, Sean stated that it was immensely gratifying to give back to the community and use his skills to aid such a worthy charity. In addition, “The hands on experience outside the classroom has helped to prepare me for my upcoming job at Microsoft.”

BFR minimizes its environmental footprint by making deliveries and pickups by bicycle

BFR minimizes its environmental footprint by making deliveries and pickups by bicycle

Related Links:

Boulder Food Rescue

“Class project helps divert 170,000 pounds of food from the dumpster”,  University of Colorado – Boulder

“Sean Wiese Receives First Casey Feldman Award for his work with Boulder Food Rescue“, University of Colorado – Boulder

Gilda’s Club

Francisvale Home for Smaller Animals

Scholarship Recipient Wants to Save the World

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Chelsea Miller (R) talking to community members at the AHRC in Atlanta

By Dianne L. Anderson

I am a dreamer, activist and daughter”, said Chelsea Miller, “and first and foremost, someone who wants to make a difference.”  Chelsea Miller has been and continues to make a difference despite significant obstacles in her life.

One of this year’s recipients of a Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break scholarship, Chelsea is currently a junior at the University of Colorado Boulder where she is an international affairs major, and Jewish studies minor, focusing on social justice in Africa and the Middle East. She is also studying French, is working on a certificate in digital arts and media and works on campus at the CU recreation center as a Student Coordinator to pay her way through college.

In keeping with her stated desire to “save the world”, Chelsea is heavily involved in volunteer work and campus activities. Chelsea has delivered meals to low income families in Denver since 2006 through Epworth Church, volunteers with the Aids Quilt through Queer Initiative, is an activist with the LGBT community and is the Co-President of  Hillel on campus. Among other activities, Chelsea volunteers with Jewish Colorado and an on-campus program called L’Dor V’Dor, where she delivers meals weekly to the elderly Boulder, Jewish community. She is also currently running for the Representative at Large position for the University of Colorado Student Government.

Chelsea picked up dirty heroin needles from the Bluff

Chelsea has been able to accomplish all of this despite overwhelming hurdles thrown her way. Growing up with an absent and unknown father was not the only hardship that Chelsea has had to face in her life.

Chelsea’s mother is recovering from a potentially deadly disease. Chelsea has been her “support system” and “caretaker”, there with her through attempted suicides, mental hospital visits, and rehabilitation centers. “My mother is my hero, and she has pushed me to be the fighter I am today….While my mother is fighting to live, I fight to make her proud…. I’d like to think that I’m her example to live”, said Chelsea.

Chelsea has continued to be that example by making a difference on her Alternative Spring Break trip to Atlanta this year, funded by the Casey Feldman Foundation. Chelsea’s trip found her working with two non-profits, the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition (AHRC) and Cool Girls.

Chelsea Miller (left front) with Cool Girls

The AHRC provides education and risk reduction programs to empower adults in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of substance use, HIV/AIDS, STDs, hepatitis, and other communicable diseases. Cool Girls supports girls in all aspects of their development – breaking the cycles of poverty, low self-esteem, and teen pregnancy, helping girls develop into confident women through education and exposure to a broader world of opportunity.

With Atlanta Harm Reduction, Chelsea volunteered in a community referred to as “The Bluff”. Within this neighborhood Chelsea and her fellow student volunteers collected dirty, used heroin needles on several tours of the community. When stationed at the Harm Reduction House, Chelsea assisted with daily duties of the organization, like making coffee for the community members, organizing paperwork, compiling condoms and other preventatives (like dental dams and female condoms) and other basic needs of the organization.

Chelsea had the opportunity to meet and speak with community members during all of her shifts and described the work as “quite fulfilling”. According to Chelsea,

Chelsea assisting a young community member with his homework

The most rewarding moment for me was when I met a man that had never used a computer before. Because of this, he didn’t have a resume and could not apply to jobs online. I showed him how to use a computer, browsers, and Microsoft Word. Then, I helped him develop a resume and set up an email account. After, we spent hours on Craigslist.com scoping out and applying for jobs. He was so thankful, because he had been unemployed and homeless for years. Without these basic skills, he couldn’t assimilate into society like he wanted to. I felt very accomplished showing him basic skills that would impact the rest of his life.

Chelsea described the young people at Cool Girls as “really inspiring”. Through lessons and games that her group planned themselves, focused on math, engineering, science and technology, they talked, played, and learned together. One of the activities involved having the girls create their own scientific invention. After the groups made their inventions, with a detailed business plan, they presented their ideas to the rest of the groups.

Given the adversity faced in her own life, Chelsea stated that her week of volunteering didn’t teach her about society’s woes like poverty, drug addiction or marginalized communities.  “No, this trip instead reminded me of such matters”, stated Chelsea. “This experience was a beautiful awakening; to remind me of where I came from and, now, where I’m going in life….I will continue to serve, and I will continue to have faith in people as long as they continue to have faith in me.”

Chelsea (front right in blue) and her fellow student volunteers in Atlanta

Could this young woman have experienced any greater accomplishments during her Alternative Spring Break week of volunteering? Being the bold and courageous person that she is, Chelsea chose to look up her long lost father whom she was told lived in Atlanta and whom she had never met. Her tenacity proved successful and Chelsea located her father and met him in Atlanta. “I had honestly not even thought about the prospect of meeting a parent during my spring break”, said Chelsea. “This experience was powerful. I reconnected with who I really am and who, in the end, I really want to be.”

Contribute to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that more students may experience the rewards of an Alternative Spring Break.

Chelsea Miller in Atlanta

Related Links:

- University of Colorado Boulder Volunteer Resource Center (Plans and organizes Alternative Spring Break trips for students at CU)

-Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition (AHRC)

- Cool Girls

- Helping our children experience the gift of helping others, article in the Fall CU Parent Newsletter by Casey Feldman’s parents, Joel Feldman and Dianne Anderson in which they discuss the establishment of the Alternative Spring Break scholarships in Casey’s memory

Casey Feldman Inspiration video , produced by CU Boulder broadcast journalism student Kylie Bearse and which aired on CU Boulder TV News, concerning the Alternative Spring Break program and the scholarships established in Casey’s memory

- Previous  articles on the Casey Feldman Foundation News and Updates about the Alternative Spring Break Program and the many scholarship recipients who have benefited

 

 

Scholarship Recipient Vows to Leave this World a Better Place

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

By Dianne L. Anderson

Jamie Haller (L) priming drywall

“My week in New Orleans helping to rebuild a home destroyed by Hurricane Katrina was incredible and by far, one of the most rewarding weeks of my life”, reported Jamie Haller, a 2012 recipient of a Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break scholarship stipend.

A junior and international relations major and education minor at the University of Colorado – Boulder, Jamie has been raised by a single mother for the past 8 years and works year round to pay for her own tuition, books and living expenses.  With no money left to spare to cover the expenses of the trip, Jamie was extremely grateful to the Casey Feldman Foundation for the $500 stipend.

Jamie and her fellow volunteers stayed at a church in the lower 9th ward of New Orleans–the area hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina.”I was shocked to see how much work has yet to be done in the area, certain streets felt like ghost towns with the large number of empty lots and remains of houses”, stated Jamie. “ It is hard to believe that these people have gone through so much and yet their upbeat spirit has remained–it is truly inspirational to see.”

The students working on Betty's house

Jamie and a team of student volunteers spent 4 days working with the non-profit, St.Bernard Project which has rebuilt over 445 homes in the greater New Orleans area since 2006. Jamie and her fellow volunteers worked on the home of an elderly woman, “Betty”, whose home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.  The students “mudded”, sanded and primed drywall, caulked, primed and painted the exterior of the house and laid down linoleum on the interior floors.

“I’m happy that Betty will soon be able to live in a healthy and clean environment”, said Jamie. “It was so great seeing how quickly things can come together when you have such a great team working alongside one another”.

What are Jamie’s pans for the future upon graduation? Ms. Haller plans on joining the Peace Corps, after which she hopes to work on developing education plans in West Africa.”I want to leave this world a better place than when I found it”, said Jamie.

Contribute to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that more students may experience the rewards of an Alternative Spring Break.  

Jamie Haller cauking the exterior of Betty's home

Related Links:

- University of Colorado Boulder Volunteer Resource Center (Plans and organizes Alternative Spring Break trips for students at CU)

- St. Bernard Project

- Helping our children experience the gift of helping others, article in the Fall CU Parent Newsletter by Casey Feldman’s parents, Joel Feldman and Dianne Anderson in which they discuss the establishment of the Alternative Spring Break scholarships in Casey’s memory

Casey Feldman Inspiration video , produced by CU Boulder broadcast journalism student Kylie Bearse and which aired on CU Boulder TV News, concerning the Alternative Spring Break program and the scholarships established in Casey’s memory

Previous  articles on the Casey Feldman Foundation News and Updates about the Alternative Spring Break Program and the many scholarship recipients who have benefited