Friday, 05 July 2013 00:00
Confucius said, “He who wishes to secure the good of others has already secured his own.” This wise old saying rings quite true for Brandon Yaraghi, Jack Forlines and Tyler Tam, three charming young men who are well on their way to securing great futures. Friends, outstanding Friends Academy students and star athletes, these entrepreneurially minded comrades rallied together to help a cause true to their heart, the children of Glen Cove Boys & Girls Club.
It all started with WATCH - We Are The Community Helpers committee – a Friends Academy program, encouraging and organizing student involvement in various community service projects. Through the program, Brandon, Jack and Tyler and were introduced to Glen Cove Boys & Girls Club, assisting members with homework help during the club’s Power Hour. After getting to know the kids on a personal level and developing lasting bonds, the three friends felt compelled to do more than just volunteer their time.
Together they founded Friends2Friends, dedicated to improving the lives of children. Their first course of action was to provide club members with fully stocked backpacks by the beginning of the school year. Brandon, Jack and Tyler began methodically planning ‘Operation Backpack.’ The goal was to raise enough money to buy 150 backpacks but they took it one step further by doing their due diligence to fill the backpacks with necessary school supplies required for each age group. They started the process by setting up a booth outside supermarkets and local vendors, complete with pictures, sample backpacks and a detailed pitch explaining what they were trying to accomplish. While most Generation Z teens communicate via instant messaging, this trio took their message directly to the community, interacting face to face, spreading the word about the club and all it has to offer to the children of Glen Cove. They managed to collect generous donations from caring shoppers and interested bystanders. Soon Friends2Friends became an official school club with over 40 Friends Academy students actively engaged in the fundraising process. Operation Backpack was well under way and they had raised the money they needed to meet their goal.
Additional sources of revenue came through the school’s October Fair where the organization sold t-shirts and string backpacks with Friends2Friends logo to help fund subsequent projects including providing Thanksgiving and Holiday Dinner Baskets for a number of club families. The organization also donated a substantial assortment of toys for the club holiday store.
By April, they were geared up for their next venture, ‘Operation Summer Camp’ focusing on underwriting the enrollment of 10-12 children in the club’s six-week Summer Project Learn program. The goal was to raise $2,500. By early June, Brandon, Jack, Tyler and Friends2Friends had not only exceeded their goal, but doubled it, enabling 16 club members to attend the summer Project Learn program. Because this fundraising effort happened during the busiest time of the year, between lacrosse, finals and taking board tests, the boys relied heavily on direct contributions, thanks to the generosity of friends, family and community members.
“It is an honor for us to have high school students of this caliber actively involved with our club, especially Brandon, Jack and Tyler who are clearly not your average teens. Their determination, drive and passion to help our kids is truly admirable and we are very fortunate that they are dedicated to passing along the baton to other Friends Academy students to continue to carry on the Friends2Friends mission after they graduate,” said Sara Laskow, GCBGC Program Director.
Brandon Yaraghi, 17, who plays lacrosse and football and speaks Mandarin Chinese hopes to attend a NESCAC school to play lacrosse, study economics or business and travel the world for the family furniture business, said of his experience at the club, “When we started working here, it was a new experience for all of us but as the days progressed, we got a lot closer to each kid and that was really nice, getting to be a part of the club community and being able to be help these kids. They deserve a lot more than they can have and it feels great to be able to help them out.”
Jack Forlines, 17, plays basketball, excels in math and hopes to pursue a career in engineering, said of his participation at the club, ”I’ve had a really great experience here. It’s been fun getting to know all the kids, playing games, playing sports and it is really gratifying when you can help them in a bigger way than just financially.”
Tyler Tam, 16, is on the varsity lacrosse team and would like to play college lacrosse at a NESCAC school. He plans on majoring in economics and pursue a career in investment banking. “I love this club because it gives you more than an opportunity to just write a check and donate money but have no interaction. It’s great to be a part of the club and work with the kids. It was really satisfying to pass out the backpacks and see the kids’ faces light up.”
Friends2friends will soon begin the 2nd Operation Backpack later this summer. To learn more about friends2friends visit friends2friends.org.
Glen Cove Boys & Girls Club at Lincoln House has been serving the community since 1903 by providing a safe and caring environment that will inspire and enable all young people to realize their full potential as productive and responsible citizens. The Club serves more than 700 youths, ages 6 to 18, in the Glen Cove community with a variety of after school programs in education, sports and recreation, dance, technology and art, all designed to enrich and enhance learning and build self-esteem. To learn more about Glen Cove Boys & Girls Club and how you can help support the Club, its mission and service to the youth of the Glen Cove community, please call Melissa Rhodes, Executive Director at 516-671-8030 or visit www.glencovebgc.org.