Your Summer Assignment: Make a Difference

By Roberto Muñiz

Kids enrolled in the Summer Soccer Academy

A simple statement by the legendary Helen Keller, holds so much significance; “Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

This truth is at the top of my mind as I regularly meet with organizational leaders who never fail to amaze with their ambitious dreams of challenging the culture, not only for their organizations but also for the community around them.

One organization that has my highest admiration and support is New Brunswick Tomorrow (NBT), a not-for-profit organization, I am honored to serve as the Chair of the Board of Trustees. It’s through this organization that leaders in New Brunswick and surrounding communities collaborate on ways to make New Brunswick a better place to live and work.

At NBT, we hold very honest conversations between leaders in both the public and private sectors, and we challenge each other to think differently, often times beyond the specific sectors we work in. We tackle issues that impact our communities such as healthcare, neighborhood safety, education and youth programs, finding ways to make improvements.

When it comes to youth, NBT has some ambitious goals including equipping students for college or a job after graduation. NBT’s Summer Soccer Academy is one tangible way I see this goal being met and it’s one of my favorites.

This summer program uses soccer as a tool to attract youth in New Brunswick, but the program is actually a life-skills development camp. During summer months, kids are engaged in reading exercises, life skills workshops and character-building activities. Children are tested on mental, emotional and physical resiliency at the beginning and end of each summer, with the goal to help them improve on all fronts.

Since its inception in 2007, this free program has grown from 20 to almost 200 kids. It warms my heart to see this program benefitting so many New Brunswick youth and giving them something beneficial to do in the summer.

This is also a population where many of the city’s youth cannot afford college or the expenses that college brings. NBT’s support of the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) Program at New Brunswick High School includes hosting a graduation dinner and providing each graduating senior a laptop computer to take to college. We want to send each student off to school with an essential tool for continuing his/her education.

I encourage you to check out all New Brunswick Tomorrow offers and see what’s available in your community.
Where can you make a difference in your own backyard? As Helen Keller stated, “together we can do so much.” 

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