As we reflect on 2015, we at live civilly are struck by the overwhelming response we experienced from youth volunteers.  We’d like to take a moment to look back and thank everyone who made all of the past year’s successes possible.

First, we have to thank our Board of Directors. live civilly has the great fortune to have a thoughtful, big-hearted, professional and hard-working Board. This group of people has come together to make live civilly the successful organization it has become with not just local, but regional and national support.  This group of committed and courageous people has made live civilly a strong, successful non-profit that is ready to enter 2016 with new ideas, new initiatives and BIG PLANS!

Thank you to Susannah Zimmermann who had served as our Volunteer Coordinator until June 2015 and helped us to not only grow our volunteer base, but also to initiate one of the most important efforts of 2015; the Community Service Club at the Moorestown Upper Elementary School.  Beginning in January 2015, the Community Service Club began and well exceeded our expectations!  The first session, with spots available for 25 students filled nearly 65 spots!  The second session had a similar response and we learned as much from the students, their feedback, their successes and their challenges as we think they learned from us.  Regretfully, Susannah had to leave us, but is still a supporter and will be joining us in 2016 for a few more efforts!

In June 2015, Adrienne Barr joined us as our Volunteer Coordinator and with her ideas and initiatives the program is growing rapidly!  With a volunteer base of more than 120 student and parent volunteers, community service related volunteer opportunities are growing and expanding.  Community Service Club members from Fall 2015 not only participated in “in-club” activities, but also created extensions of the program!  From independent toy drives supporting Toys for Tots and independent fundraisers that benefitted the local community, to live civilly sponsored efforts like the Environmental Elves, these students took the methods and ideas they gathered in the Community Service Club and continued their efforts!  Barr has been hard at work developing projects and community service opportunities for 2016 that include Food Pantry connected projects, Habitat for Humanity collaborative efforts and the Community Supported Gardens just to name a few.  Keep watching our blog and website to see what new efforts there are in store for 2016!

Joe Buss continues to develop long term strategies for live civilly and has been busy researching 2016 live civilly-STEM connected efforts.  While we can’t divulge the breadth of these efforts yet, we can say that STEM technologies and Community Service efforts will be joining hands and growing in 2016… from agro-technology to computer programming Buss has been developing community partnerships that will illuminate for children the connection between service and science.  live civilly has always supported the connection between industry and philanthropy, understanding that service to the community creates greater opportunity.  There are all kinds of initiatives that young people can pursue, that may lead them to careers that will make the planet better.  Although he prefers to be behind the scenes, Buss deserves a big thanks!

Toni Farmer continues to grow the live civilly Garden Programs as we enter our third year of Community Supported Gardens.  Her efforts and inventiveness have quadrupled our garden foot print and the educational efforts that support them!  The garden programs include monthly workshops at the Moorestown Upper Elementary School with individual classes that have joined the garden program, the annual “Grow One-Give One” program, the annual Seedling Sale and the seasonal volunteer “One Garden One Week” Program.  Additionally, Farmer has been working closely with the schools to create a mutually beneficial and rewarding program that will touch every child.  Each of these programs is geared toward educating young people about small scale gardening, the science behind gardening, providing food for the UES, and during the summer for the local food banks.  Last summer live civilly provided more than 200 lbs of fresh produce to local food pantries and food banks.  Farmer is entering 2016 with the goal of developing a “Gardens Committee” (among other things) so if you are interested in getting “back to nature” please contact her at farmersonmain@comcast.net.

Technology Coordinator, Ricky Lovelace, is the reason our website runs, our blogs get published, our social media hums and is a key element in our new technology initiatives for youth starting in 2016.  Lovelace is a long-time friend of live civilly and provides the organization with valuable insight and perspectives on how social media and technology can be shared.  He also has great ideas on how to harness younger generations and gain support from them!  This year the live civilly nation will benefit from Ricky’s expertise… supporters will have the opportunity to engage with live civilly more!  Just keep watching our website and social media sites – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.  Wherever you are live civilly is there too!

The Homework Help program is now in its third year and the partnership with students, parents, schools and volunteers keeps growing.  Under the direction of our NJ Certified Educator John “Chris” VanSciver, the program has grown its volunteer base as well as students coming seeking assistance.  VanScivers experience as an educator in Charter Schools (LEAP Academy, Camden), public Schools (Burlington Township, NJ) and now at BCIT has provided him a wealth of “tricks” in his bag to help engage students and assist them with academic issues.  This year, 2016, the Homework Help Program will provide additional opportunities for peer-tutoring to occur as well as a summer bridging program in partnership with the Moorestown Library.

So as we ring in the New Year and make our own resolutions, let one of your resolutions be to share live civilly with a friend.  Our goal in 2016 is to broaden our reach, engage more youth volunteers and establish more youth service programs.  Everything live civilly does is an extension of our Mission:  To encourage every-day philanthropy and participation starting with our youngest citizens. To create a culture of understanding, connectivity and community and thereby offering children real opportunities for active engagement and empowering them to care for themselves and for one anotherlive civilly is committed to developing the next generation of conscientious decisions makers – to provide young people with real, hands-on opportunities that illuminate differences and the bridges between those differences.

So as 2015 comes to a close we want to thank the hundreds of volunteers, the students and parents that have continued to support live civilly, our financial contributors, the Moorestown Ministerium and individual members there-in, the Moorestown Department of Parks & Recreation, the Moorestown Library, Moorestown Township Public Schools and particularly the Upper Elementary School, local organizations like Naoji Moriuchi from Keller-Williams Realty, the Moorestown Breakfast Rotary, the Moorestown Community House, NFL Films, Moorestown Hardware and so many more!  The support we receive from the community allows us to continue to grow and develop programs that benefit our local community.

Happy New Year!  May 2016 bring with it the promise of peace and joy – in our hearts, in our lives and in our communities.  Thank you, for all of your support!