Finding out what it means to give back to Greenwich

Jenny-Byxbee-greenwich-voicesEditor’s note: Summer is a time for internships, and graduating GHS senior Elizabeth Termini just completed her internship with the Greenwich United Way. To describe her experience, Greenwich Voices columnist Jenny Byxbee, the town’s youth services bureau coordinator, has turned her column over to Elizabeth for the month.

 

Being a youth helping the youth of Greenwich is much different than I expected.  I never knew there were such great people who care so much about the youth in our town.

When I was younger my mom, Lorraine Termini, always helped the young people and she always did everything she could to give back to the community. I never understood why she tried so hard. I had to wonder, did any of it really make a difference?

I never used to think that one person could make an impact but now that I have had the chance to intern with the Greenwich United Way and with our town’s Youth Services Bureau coordinator, and many other inspiring people during my internship, I finally see the light in giving back to the community. I see why my mom still does all she does, and why so many people in Greenwich work so hard for our youth programs to be the best they can be.

The internship of GHS graduating senior Elizabeth Termini, at right, wasn’t just a chance for her to show off she’s taller then Greenwich Youth Services Coordinator Jenny Byxbee. It was also a chance for her to grow mentally and see what it means to give back.

The internship of GHS graduating senior Elizabeth Termini, at right, wasn’t just a chance for her to show off she’s taller then Greenwich Youth Services Coordinator Jenny Byxbee. It was also a chance for her to grow mentally and see what it means to give back.

I am a Greenwich Police Explorer, and our adult adviser, Thomas Huestis, is one of the most inspiring examples I have seen. He has showed me what great outcomes can come about by us all volunteering time. Officer Huestis, every Wednesday night for two hours, works with us students on educating us on law enforcement. He showed me how person can make a difference to many.

One of my first projects I was given as an intern when I came to work with Jenny Byxbee was leading the First Selectman’s Youth Commission meeting. I didn’t realize how much work goes into running a meeting. I had to prepare an agenda for the students that would help them stay on track and be what Jenny referred to as a “meaningful and measurable” meeting.

But how do I do that? I had to know what I was going to suggest and talk about and how to get the group to make decisions together. I never knew how much thought had to be put into the agenda, and how hard it is to get everyone working together until I had to do it for myself. I learned quickly to adapt, revise, and be persistent, plus the importance of collaboration.

When I arrived at the meeting I suggested we start a nonsmoking campaign, considering a lot of youth in our community unfortunately smokes. The majority of kids at the meeting didn’t like my idea and at first I was offended. But Jenny nudged me to plug away anyway and I worked hard on the sample poster I gave out and I put a lot of thought into it.

But then I realized it wasn’t necessarily a bad idea, but I needed to put aside my own agenda and really listen to what was important to the others, Jenny often says meet people where they are at. I continued running the meeting and we all agreed that bringing back Safe Rides for senior prom would help a lot of the youth.

Safe Rides is a program where an adult driver works with students to pick up intoxicated kids and bring them home safely. This does not support underage drinking but it has minimized the number of drunken kids who would have gotten in the car with a drunken friend on senior prom night. I realized that just one event can change the outcome of saving people’s lives.

But we can’t do it alone and I also have Jenny’s words ringing in my ear that it takes a village.

I have to say I do believe one of the best kept secrets in town is Jenny’s work as our Youth Services Bureau coordinator. She cares so much about every child having what is needed to be successful. She is always on call whether it be for an Interagency Team case or for the Juvenile Review Board, making sure all Reading Champions trained have supplies and are ready to go, additionally is always on the phone and computer soliciting donations and volunteers so that every project under her umbrella doesn’t go without, like wiffle ball, School Readiness Council, Youth Services Council, the JR United Way and many many others.

She even gives her time off during nights and weekends and helps with Safe Rides, and runs the Youth Commission on Sundays. She handles each task with care, compassion, and sense of urgency that inspires others. But the best part about Jenny is I truly believe she is forever a kid at heart, her silly sense of humor can make the hardest of tasks fun (expect for making copies) and the most difficult of times seem not that difficult.

She has been the most amazing mentor and my internship journey through giving back to the community has been an amazing experience. I am amazed by the power of one.

Elizabeth Termini graduated from Greenwich High School on Thursday. She will be attending Southern Connecticut State University in the fall.

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