Kenny Song of Ridgewood and Peter Chung of Glen Rock spent Wednesdays throughout the 2012-2013 school year volunteering with the American Red Cross in Ridgewood. Both were participating students in The Senior Experience Program, a graded internship program at The Bergen County Academies Dr. John Grieco Campus in Hackensack. The Senior Experience Program allows students to intern in an area of interest during their senior year and the Red Cross in Ridgewood has been the beneficiary of many bright interns through the program over the years. The interns offer support at the front desk, lend a helping hand to donors at blood drives and perform many of the everyday administrative tasks one might expect would be part of a volunteer experience.
But 2012 was anything but normal. Superstorm Sandy hit New Jersey in October and Kenny and Peter immediately stepped up their game to play a role with Red Cross response efforts at the Ridgewood location. Under the guidance of their mentor, long-time Red Cross volunteer Bill Kelly, the two helped handle the significant increase in the number of incoming phone calls and soon found themselves directing people where to get help and guiding others how they could help those affected. Kenny and Peter also created instruction sheets for assembling comfort kits and recovery kits. This helped streamline the process with replenishing the daily stock of these disaster relief items.
The Senior Experience Program allowed Kenny and Peter to assist those affected by Sandy, while also learning to actively participate in an area of study and become members of a work team. One long-term project the boys successfully tackled during the year included condensing a 197-page Health and Safety manual down to a more efficient and manageable 35-page reference guide for instructors.
In addition to gaining work experience, Bill Kelly often spent time providing instruction about creating resumes, cover letters, and presentations to help Kenny and Peter in their future endeavors. Bill’s enthusiastic involvement in the mentoring program helped the student’s develop their skills, further their knowledge, and embrace the opportunities that lie ahead.
On June 5th 2013, Bergen County Academies held a luncheon for the seniors to share their internship experience through presentations to fellow students. During the luncheon, Kenny and Peter presented Bill Kelly with a certificate of appreciation for his outstanding commitment and support during his mentorship.
Clearly moved by the recognition, Bill said, “They helped me remain open to new ideas instead of just doing something because we always did it that way. Working together with Peter and Kenny kept everything new and exciting.” He added, “It is truly a great experience and I highly recommend becoming a mentor.”
Thank you to Kenny and Peter for their outstanding help with the American Red Cross and to Bill Kelly for providing them with exceptional guidance!