Watching the Action Team at Queens Vocational High School help conduct an indoor baseball clinic last weekend evoked fond memories for two of the youth volunteer organization’s alumni who attended the event to help shoot a public service announcement.
“Now I’m seeing the direct path from the Action Team to what I am doing today. Everything just comes full circle,” said Neil Kirschling, a former West Deptford Action Team Captain and recent University of Delaware graduate.
Kirschling was joined by former Action Team Captains from Queens Vocational in New York, Bishop Ireton in Virginia and one of the original Team Captains, Kari Foley, from St. Margaret’s in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.
Foley, who graduated from St. Margaret’s in 2006 and the University of Minnesota in 2010, went to work as a field manager for a non-governmental relief organization based in Sierra Leon, where she oversaw the construction of libraries, wells and other projects in western Africa.
She later returned to the University of Minnesota to obtain her Masters of Science in Evaluation Studies. She will soon begin a new position with the USDA in Washington, DC.
“It’s great to see how the Action Team has evolved,” Foley said. “I remember when I started there were only three Action Teams, to know that they are now in 100 schools and locations including Hawaii and Alaska, that’s pretty amazing.”
Foley recalled that Action Team National Manager Lyman Smith had reached out to her school. One of her teachers thought it was a great fit given that their school required community service to graduate.
Only a few years behind Foley, Kirschling became involved in the program in 2008, during his junior and senior years at West Deptford High School in southern New Jersey. He was one of the first Action Team scholarship recipients in 2010, and he used his $1,500 grant to help fund his education at the University of Delaware.
Kirschling graduated from Delaware this past year with a degree in Public Policy as well as a Masters in Public Administration. He believes he chose those majors primarily based on his community service experience and desire to give back to his community — something which sprang from his involvement with the Action Team.
“Not many people realize that [public policy] is a major and you can study something related to this and make it a career,” said Kirschling, who now works for the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, whose mission is to improve the Delaware education system.
Kirschling has little doubt that his experience as an Action Team Captain helped prepare and motivate him for his public policy work today.
“It was a really great group of kids who would meet every week after school to get involved. One of the neat things about the Action Team, which a lot of other organizations didn’t have, was the recognition of service,” Kirschling said.
“There were always events to go to and just get a shout out for our volunteer work, which isn’t the point, but when you are in high school and spending your free time giving back to the community, it’s nice. I remember throwing out the first pitch at the River Sharks minor league baseball game, and that was such a cool opportunity that I wouldn’t have had if I wasn’t a part of the Action Team.”
The 2015 public service announcement is scheduled to begin airing this April, and will prominently feature Foley, Kirschling and current Action Team Captains from Bishop Ireton (VA), HB Woodlawn (VA), and Queens Vocational (NY) and major leaguers Chris Capuano of the New York Yankees and Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins.
For more information on the Action Team program or to #JoinOurTeam please visit www.actionteam.org.