Many Island teenagers earn their salaries by working at local businesses during their summer vacations, but Adam Herman and Kim Carlomagno are instead asking Island businesses for money for their summer plans.
Adam, a freshman at University of Connecticut, and his girlfriend, Kim, a junior at the regional high school, are raising funds to support their plans to volunteer at an orphanage in Ghana this summer.
Adam and Kim hope to fly to Ghana for two weeks under the auspices of an organization called Global Crossroads. They plan to teach English, health issues, and other community projects to Ghanaian children.
"Kim always said that we should volunteer somewhere, and we researched different things that we could do," says Adam. "We both really liked the program in Ghana so we started fundraising and told our parents that we're going to Ghana this summer."
"At first our parents didn't really take us seriously, but when we began fundraising and asking for help, they couldn't really say no," says Kim.
Adam and Kim's decision to work with children stems from their past experiences in volunteer work. When Adam was at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, he and Kim were members of Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Adam was, and Kim currently is, a member of the Martha's Vineyard National Honors Society precinct, where they performed charity work as well.
Adam has also coached baseball teams, volunteered playing chess, and worked with kids at the Oak Bluffs School. Kim, an AP and honors student, has a mentorship with the hospital in hopes of someday working in the field of medicine.
The only speed bump on Adam and Kim's journey to Ghana is $7,000. The program costs $3,500 per person, which includes airfare, five necessary vaccinations need to travel to Ghana, and other expenses.
To raise the necessary funds, the low-key couple is focusing to raise the money by working with Island businesses and community members. During one of Adam's school breaks from UConn, where he is majoring in biomedical engineering, he and Kim started their fundraising by setting up a booth at Cronig's Market, which has also contributed $200 to their cause. The couple are going to businesses town by town, and their families have also gotten the word out about their desire to work in Ghana.
"It is a lot of money, but we have a lot of potential people willing to donate," says Kim. "We have been talking to so many businesses, and family friends. Mark Taylor has especially been helpful with financial planning."
A family friend of the Hermans for many years, Mr. Taylor is an active member of the soccer community, where Adam has also had a prominent role. Mr. Taylor describes Adam as a, "wonderful player and a leader among the kids," who has been captain of many his teams. To further their fundraising, Adam approached Mr. Taylor who has had experience in the past about raising money.
"I gave them ideas about how to reach their goal. People are generous all year round, so I suggested that they ask business to maybe match some donations and to just get out there and get all their irons in the fire," says Mr. Taylor, "Companies will recognize that Adam and Kim aren't just doing this to have fun, but to also benefit the Ghanaian children."
Mr. Taylor has also given the two a donation and met with small companies off Island to help the two teens out.
"I'm sure the two will reach their goal. In fact if Adam is involved, they will probably get it done," adds Mr. Taylor.
While Adam and Kim will be spending 30 hours a week at the orphanage, Global Crossroads allows members who volunteer with the organization to explore the culture of Ghana.
"The program on which we hope to go is called a mini-venture," says Adam. "It is an introduction to volunteering abroad, as well as an introduction to Africa. We get a few days to play in the city and see the sights of Ghana. We eventually hope to go back with the same organization and the mini-venture program gives us the opportunity to experience the culture." In the time they have to explore Accra, the capital city, the two can visit castles or take a canopy walkway adventure with the other volunteers and country coordinators that are always on staff.
Eliza Gowell, a junior at the high school, has worked with Kim at the hospital during their mentorship and hopes to volunteer abroad as well. She says, "It is an inspiring act for them to sacrifice time and financial needs to go do a selfless act."
For more information, or to contribute to their trip, contact Adam at 774-563-8377 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact Kim at 508-696-0708.
Jen Amazeen is a senior at the regional high school.