By Elaine Park
I have spent the last several years of my life volunteering at various locations and learning about myself at each one. I’ve participated in a variety of activities from a Greeley club called Global Schoolhouse, which raises money to help girls and women obtain an education in countries such as Cambodia and India, to spotting riders at the therapeutic riding center in Brewster called Pegasus but I felt that I could do more.
When I learned that a friend wanted to expand his young organization, S.T.A.R.S., I jumped at the opportunity.
This year, my friend, Brendan Murphy, established a ski team for Sleepy Hollow High School and funded it through a program he created last year, called S.T.A.R.S.
S.T.A.R.S. is an acronym for Sponsor a Trophy and Reward a Superstar. Through this program, Brendan asks people to sponsor a trophy that he has refurbished to give out to all the participants in the Sleepy Hollow Special Olympics for $10. Anyone who donates money is able to write a note to the recipient of the trophy, which is placed on a tag that is tied around the trophy. All the proceeds went to the Sleepy Hollow ski team and last year, Brendan raised around $5,000; however this year, he needed more.
When I learned of this, I struggled to think of an idea that would help me help him raise money for his ski team, as I am a part of the Greeley ski team, thus making Sleepy Hollow one of our competitors. I talked it over with a friend, Kate, who suggested that Greeley partner up with Sleepy Hollow and split the funds. I hesitatingly pitched the idea to Brendan, as I was nervous about being a leader in a project this big for a school that I was leaving in a few months.
In my previous volunteer experiences, I was always just a member of an already established organization who followed my supervisor’s instructions. Now, I was the leader and I had to be the one to take initiative, set up meetings, and rally the troops. Ultimately, my love for ski racing and the passion I had seen Brendan show in his commitment to his program, drove me to get in the middle of this partnership.
Currently, Horace Greeley and Sleepy Hollow High School have both accepted the partnership between the two ski teams. Brendan and I, with the help of two other Greeley captains, Aron Kaufman and Sam Morgan, have devised a plan for raising as much money as possible. We are reaching out to residents of our hometowns as well as ski mountains and any companies to help us raise our funds. Anyone interested in donating can sponsor a trophy for $10 or write a check out to either school, which is tax deductible. With the proceeds, Sleepy Hollow hopes to expand their current, three person team, and Greeley hopes to gain team jackets as well as more practice time on the mountain.
As I write this article, my previous jitters of getting heavily involved in a large project have faded and I now foresee a bright future for the program and both teams. I am excited to see what S.T.A.R.S. will teach me about being a leader and a partner as I embark on this new project.
Elaine Park, a senior at Greeley, skis for the Greeley ski team and for the Butternut club race team in Great Barrington, MA. In addition to racing, Elaine runs cross country in the fall and jumps for the Greeley spring track team. She also plays both the piano and viola.