St. Marcellin Champagnat urged the early brothers in their formation of young people to make them “good Christians and virtuous citizens.” Underlying this fundamental tenet of Marist pedagogy is the belief that young people can make a difference and are critical to building a better future—for both the Church and society. Indeed, St. Marcellin himself began a community of Brothers that today spans 72 countries around the world; he began with two recruits no older than 18 years of age.
Here at the Marist Brothers Center at Esopus, New York (MBCE), we too believe in the generosity and potential of young people. We know that they will play a vital role in shaping the future of our world. Last year, during the camp season, and this year, during the spring break service week, our young volunteers participated in a new initiative called Good Works, an app developed by a former Marist student (Kevin Brady, RCHS ’73).
Good Works seeks to engage and educate young people in the power they have to effect good in the world through service to others. This app, downloaded onto smartphones, engages them in the world in which they live and uses technology to track, record and reward service hours in real time. Young people gain “credits” or “coins” and make decisions on where they will spend them to accomplish the most good. Working as a group, and gaining a consensus in decision-making, earns bonus credits, thereby extending the power of their influence to effect change.
Most importantly of all, the Good Works app does this without destroying the culture of giving. Young people are not “paid” for their service. They do this of their own accord. Instead, Good Works helps to educate the young that service done on behalf of others can be a catalyst for good in the world and, hopefully, bring about change.
In addition, our young people are engaged in a dialogue with our sponsoring benefactors who are also interested in shaping Esopus. Sponsors who wish to encourage this educational enterprise agree to a specified gift or donation. Young people are asked to use their service hours to “liberate” this gift. Sponsors benefit in a two fold manner. Not only will they be doing good for the MBCE, they will also encourage value formation and decision-making skills in young people.
Our volunteers did indeed effect change here at the Center. During this past year, students have volunteered their service hours and procured funding for new mattresses, outdoor adventure equipment, maintenance supplies and a new swing set for our pool area. We are always looking for opportunities to engage our young people, and for sponsors to take part in this new initiative. Want more information? Contact us at [email protected].