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Local High School Students Work Hard to Give Back to Local and International Communities

Students from the "Rhombo" Team pose in front of a health clinic they helped to erect. Students on this team represent schools in Fairfield and Westport.
Students from the "Rhombo" Team pose in front of a health clinic they helped to erect. Students on this team represent schools in Fairfield and Westport.

Norwalk, Conn., Feb. 24, 2014 – On February 23, nearly 200 area high school students, representing 25 high schools through the local non-profit organization Builders Beyond Borders, returned from the Dominican Republic where they worked with adult volunteers to build much needed facilities for deserving communities. Five teams partnered with local organizations -- including a local Rotary Club, Un Techo Para Mi País, FUNKARST and a local youth group -- across five communities throughout the country to build a health clinic, sanitation facilities, a water supply system and several houses. During their weeklong service trip, the students finished the first phase of these construction projects. In March and April, 200 additional B3 volunteers will travel to the Dominican Republic to complete the projects, bringing the total number of service hours donated to nearly 18,000 hours.

Leading up to the International service trips, starting last summer, 370 students from 25 local high schools enrolled in and began volunteering with Builders Beyond Borders (B3). Student and adult volunteers worked most weekends from September through December to improve their local community. Projects included collaborating with Green Village Initiative to build community gardens and promote healthy eating among Bridgeport school children; partnering with Al’s Angels to fill food bins for families in need; cleaning up rivers and lakes as a part of Clean Water Day; expanding projects at Wakeman Town Farm; building a wheelchair ramp with STAR, Inc., and more. By January 1st of this year, volunteers had completed roughly 2,000 hours of community service locally.

In addition to the direct volunteer services B3 students provide, the Builders Beyond Borders program also offers many leadership opportunities for students. Students participate in programs throughout the year that help build their leadership skills, including the Amigo Program, a mentoring program for new B3 students; the Student Advisor Program, placing senior students as leaders for their individual teams, and the B3 Advisory Board, selecting one student for each team to serve on a board to help guide the organization.

According to Amy Schroeder-Riggio, Executive Director at Builders Beyond Borders, high school students participating in the B3 program gain invaluable skills in leadership, team building, cultural exchange and sensitivity during their local and international service work, and often begin a life-long commitment of giving back to their communities. “Traveling to and working in foreign communities challenges students to break through their comfort zones, work and interact with

students from other schools, and participate in cultural exchange activities,” says Schroeder-Riggio. “By volunteering their time and working hard right in their own backyards, students become valuable assets to their local communities.”

About Builders Beyond Borders

Builders Beyond Borders (B3) is a non-profit organization that builds character, responsibility and leadership by engaging high school students across Fairfield County in leadership training through local and global community service projects. Begun in 1993, B3 has worked with communities to build needed projects through Fairfield County in in Latin American nations including Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, and Tobago. For more information, visit: www.buildersbeyondborders.org.

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