The Mount Olive Community Fellowship (MOCF)
Mobilizing, connecting, and supporting young people to get active in their communities in meaningful ways.
Presenting to the City Council and getting their approval for the collaboration for the partnership with township offices before launch of the program!
We also introduced the social service pledge that they signed which stated that they would do whatever they can do make social service more accessible in Mount Olive!
I grew a mustache to raise $750 for the phase I of our fundraising efforts for our scholarship fund. We reached our target in less than 2 weeks!
Second day at the annual carnival! We collected over 100 emails and sent bi weekly update emails :)
Ps. I couldn't upload a video with most of our fellows at one of our meetings from Facebook. You can see the video through this link: https://www.facebook.com/MountOliveCF/videos/2349061248716390/
Some of the food we harvested! We wish we took more but we're still harvesting a lot of our tomatoes and egg plants!
One of the arts and crafts events we did with seniors! We wish we took more pics :/
When our core team had their names mixed up!
Maya, Chris, and I presenting to Senator Oroho! He loved what we were planning to do and sent us referrals and advice!
Chris and someone from The Land Conservancy of NJ planting some veggies before the fellowship started! We're still growing some vegetables and will be harvesting more in the next few weeks!
One of the beautification projects. The town put up a plaque for all the work we did for them!
Some of the fellows with The Land Conservancy of NJ!
Some of the plants we grew in one of the plots we had donated to us!
Some of the back to school supplies! This took us 3 trips back and forth and all the bags were full!
Chris giving a kid an animal balloon!
Some volunteers having a fun time at one of our events!
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H6A Hensyn village, Stedwick Drive, Budd Lake, NJ 07828
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Facebook: Mt. Olive Community Fellowship
Date You Started Your Project Started
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)
1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
Everyone wants to do good. Older people are knowledgeable but they tend to have busy schedules that don't permit them to actively volunteer to make their community better. Young people have time and want the experience. We want to distribute a guide, which explains in detail what we did through Mount Olive Community Fellowship, to other young people who want to use our plans to approach community service with sustainability and intentionality.
2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
Through MOCF, we partnered with the Mayor's office, Senior Center, Land Conservancy of NJ to identify projects that young people could work on. Our core team then proceeded to recruit 25 exceptional young people - who included the National Honor Society President, The Student Council President, two Class Council Presidents of our local High School, etc - and paired them with one of the organizations mentioned for the sake of learning and working on the projects.
Our program ran for 2 months: Beginning of July to the end of August and required fellows to meet with their advisors from the organizations twice every week for two hours for the duration of the program to work on the projects. Fellows were also tasked with organizing at least 2 volunteer events per track which the average attendance was about 25 people per event.
As an incentive, we raised $2000 for 4 scholarships for exemplary fellows, have gotten certificates from advisors, and letters of recommendation from our state senator.
We're currently in the process of gathering all our findings into a digestible guide which we aim to work with organizations like Global Citizen Year to distribute to talented young people.
3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?
After graduating from High School, I was a bit lost and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life so I decided to take a gap year. I stumbled across Global Citizen Year and applied and was accepted with a full scholarship. The experience was absolutely life changing. I decided to take another gap year to learn about life in America so I applied to City Year Chicago and worked as a classroom assistant for 10 months in the South Side of Chicago.
On my way home from Chicago, I was thinking about different ways I could use my experiences to better my hometown. I called a friend and we both came up with what became MOCF. We were both inspired to start this project because we were fortunate to have been exposed to opportunities that changed our lives. We wanted to create something transformative for young people without having to take a gap year and live in a foreign county for 9 months.
4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”
I wasn't happy with the video I had made so I decided to reshoot a video that was more genuine...on the night the application is due. I apologize for not speaking louder as my family is asleep!
5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
On a local level, we had an application process and a committee to approve and interview applicants. Fellows applied to a specific track and had the option to apply to more if they were interested. We had an orientation day for our fellows and informal training sessions once every two weeks which was a chance to brainstorm with everyone and for us to make sure they were confident in working on the projects.
When other young people who want to create a Community Fellowship in their community get involved with us, we will provide them with our guide, bi weekly phone calls to set goals and track progress, and give them a $500 seed money to get a head start on their scholarship fundraising with the grant we will hopefully be awarded by your program!
6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
There are numerous other organizations both in and out of school that aim to give students more leadership opportunities. Some example are Key Club, Boys and Girls Scouts, and Lions Club. Our program differs from in school clubs in the way that we give much more decision making freedom to young people - which has proven successful in our hometown - instead of relying on a advisor to tell students what their next volunteering activity will be and how it should be organized.
We don't differ much from the Scouts other than the fact that anyone can do an Eagle Scout project if they wish!
7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
Some of our achievements are:
*Grew approximately 50 pounds of vegetables in our community garden and donated to the food pantry
* Organized a back to school drive and ended up with a surplus that we gave to a food pantry at a different town
* Organized 9 events (Township beautification projects, community garden tours and service, exercise events for seniors, arts and crafts with seniors, etc) across all tracks and helped students get more than 500 hours of community services logged
* Raised $2000 for our scholarship fund
* Presented our project to our state senator, 4 local religious groups, the chamber of commerce, political party clubs, and had materials donated from Lowe's, Walmart, Dunkin Donuts, and other local businesses
* A quote from one of our fellows: "I really wouldn't have ever had the chance to do anything like this in school!"
* 150+ people in our email database
8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
Locally, our goal for next year is to build upon what we did. Some projects we are in the process of figuring out are: Voter registration drives, informal research on amount of food waste local restaurants produce and whether we could compost it and give to local farmers, working with the board of education to do yearly TEDx events per a fellows suggestion, and town murals.
Also, for our first year we were under Kiwanis Club of Mount Olive as we did not have our own 501-c3 status yet. We hope to remain under Kiwanis and to recruit a board of 5 together so the project is sustainable on the local level.
Scaling wise, our goal is to distribute our guide and help others use our model to meaningfully engage in the community with your help
9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?
10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
Donations less than $100
Donations between $100-$1k
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?
Middle Eastern or North African (for example: Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Syrian, Moroccan, Algerian) (11)
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?
Communities of color
How did you hear about this challenge?
Recommended by others
Word of mouth
Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?
I discovered the challenge when three alumni reached out and encouraged our team to apply. The three alumni are Shannong Yang, Talia Drayton, and Jose Cruz who are all personal friends of mine.
Ps. I haven't told our core team that I am applying to this program and was hoping to surprise them in case we got excited as we are currently hitting a roadblock on how we're going to incentivize other young people to start something similar. I hope your grant and guidance will helps us in that aspect!