Community service doesn’t need to be just a student activity. In 2014, Berkeley Preparatory School (FL) established a Family Service Council (FSC) charged with bringing Berkeley families together to address outstanding needs in its Tampa Bay community.
Kim Lawless, Berkeley’s director of community engagement, chairs the FSC, an eight-member group of school parents, teachers, and administrators which meets monthly to plan and lead family-service activities once each semester. The FSC selects family-appropriate activities that benefit the community and engage family members, regardless of age.
The FSC also handles the logistics of each service experience, from family notification (via Berkeley’s weekly online newsletter) to securing transportation and managing the service activities of parents and their children, grades pre-K to 12th grade. Requests from families to participate always exceed the numbers needed to tackle the service work.
During the December 2016 FSC event, more than 40 school families addressed neighborhood needs, including cleaning and stocking a food bank, landscaping an elementary school, decorating a residential memory-care facility, stuffing socks with toiletries for people without homes, and making blankets for children.
At the event’s finish in December, an anonymous donor provided each participating family with $100 and a request to “pay it forward” by planning and executing an all-family service project. The excitement was palpable as family members pondered how to best use this gift to improve their community.