Volunteer Spotlight: Future Connections with Eliza Bryant Village

Eliza Bryant Village continues to honor the legacy of our founder for 122 years – in large part – due to our passion for serving our community. While we focus on providing quality healthcare, programs and services to aging adults, we also focus on building relationships with organizations that contribute to the greater good of our community. This summer, we embarked on a new journey by partnering with Future Connections to host a talented and compassionate high-school student – Bryanna Jefferson – who helped our team think creatively through new avenues of online marketing and fundraising.

University Circle Inc’s Future Connections program provides an eight-week college and career readiness experience for rising high school seniors. Future Connections currently partners with over 30 organizations and 12 school districts to provide exceptional summer learning experiences that encourage skill development, career development, and personal development.

Up to 70 high-caliber students are selected following a formal application and competitive interview process. Students engage in project-based internships, under the guidance and mentorship of professionals in a variety of career fields, for four weeks in a University Circle institution and four weeks in a Greater Cleveland area business. A series of workshops to build life and personal development skills occur before and at the midpoint of the program. The summer experience is culminated with a recognition ceremony to celebrate the accomplishments of the students. Future Connections provides a series of workshops during the participants’ senior year to help them prepare for college.

Eliza Bryant Village utilized Bryanna’s youthful assistance in our Development Department. She worked under the mentorship of staff members Joan Palumbo, Chief Philanthropy Officer; Katie Boland, Director of External Relations, and Chantel Davis, Manager of Philanthropy and Volunteers, and Anita Bailey, Executive Assistant. Bryanna’s main objective was to help the Village increase presence through online media, including our website, Facebook, and Twitter. She also led a team meeting with ideas for our Employee Giving Campaign and pitched some creative concepts to help us meet our annual fundraising goal of $7,000.

Bryanna conducted interviews for two blog posts that we will be sharing with you in the next few weeks. But first, let’s get to know more about Bryanna and her perspective of this unique internship.  We asked Bryanna to tell you about herself and summarize her experience with us at the Village. Here is what she had to say:

I am an upcoming senior at Shaker Heights High School. I had the opportunity through school to apply for an opportunity with Future Connections. Future Connections provides an eight-week college and career readiness experience for rising high school seniors. After submitting my application, completing the interview process, and waiting a few weeks, I was placed into two organizations. For the first four weeks of the eight-week program, I was going to be working in the Development Department at Eliza Bryant Village, and the next four weeks I was placed at Metro Health Hospital in the administration department.

I was super excited to start working and getting involved in the many projects my mentors, Kate Boland, Director of External Relations, Chanel Davis, Manager of Philanthropy and Volunteers and Joan Palumbo, Chief Philanthropy Officer, had for me. Once I started, the staff and senior residents made me feel welcomed and at home. The environment was family like and everyone was really nice. Working in the development department taught me to think creatively, multi-task, prioritize and take initiative to complete tasks accurately and efficiently. I solved a problem that involved figuring out how to increase the awareness of the programs and activities provided at Eliza Bryant Village while also trying to reach potential new seniors and increase engagement with the current senior residents.

I was able to step out of my comfort zone and interact with different staff members, seniors, and even caregivers to solve this problem. I had an amazing time working at Eliza Bryant Village! It’s a wonderful place not only to work but to live and I can’t wait to come back and volunteer and help out with more projects in the future.

Bryanna helped the Development team engage with seniors and our community at the June 14 Senior Summer Walk Series hosted at League Park. The series is hosted by the City of Cleveland Age-Friendly Cleveland Initiative. As a member of Age-Friendly Cleveland, Eliza Bryant Village continues to engage older adults in making our community a safer, healthier and happier place for aging adults. For example, seniors from Eliza Bryant Village attended the 2018 Senior Day and we hosted a focus group with our housing tenants to determine how businesses can become more “age-friendly.” 

(Created by Bryanna Jefferson)

“An Age-Friendly City is a place that enables people of all ages to actively participate in community activities. It is a place that treats everyone with respect, regardless of their age. It is a place that makes it easy to stay connected to those around you and those you love. It is a place that helps people stay healthy and active even at the oldest ages. And it is a place that helps those who can no longer look after themselves to live with dignity and enjoyment.” -Agefriendlyworld.org

On behalf of Eliza Bryant Village, thank you to Future Connections, Erin Gill, Future Connections Program Manager and especially to Bryanna for all the creative ideas she presented to our team to help us fulfill our mission and for her optimistic, respectful attitude towards seniors, visitors and staff that she brought to work with her every day.

Welcome to Eliza Bryant Village, a community of care for older adults in Cleveland, Ohio.

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