A Community-Helping Community
One of the main values that
Trinity head football coach Jeff Devanney tries to stress to his players is
the importance of community. Supporting community within the team, community
within the school, and community within the city of Hartford are multiple ways
in which a Trinity College football player can get involved. Devanney has introduced
multiple ways for his players to get involved with the city of Hartford through
community service. Chris Doval ’10, Thomas Kilgore ’11, and Harry Melendez ’11 are
just a few Bantam players who have taken on this challenge.
All three student-athletes are
involved with a mentoring program at either the McDonough or Donohue
Elementary/Middle School, visiting students in
the range of third to fifth grade once a week, and doing whatever they can to
make an impact on the students' life.
A typical day in the
program can change on a weekly basis; it’s all up to the kids.
“Basically what I do every Friday is go down there and just hang out with the kids, talk to them about any problems they may be having in school, and just be involved in any activities that they want to do,” Melendez explains. “I cater to their needs and do whatever they want to do that day.”
Melendez is a particularly
interesting case of goodwill because of where he grew up. Through firsthand
experience, he understands how useful community service can be.
“I’m from a neighborhood similar to Hartford, so I know the benefits of community service and how it can benefit kids. Since I’m going to be here for four years, I think it’s good to give back to the community. I just want to try to help out these kids and give them some guidance and let them know that it is possible for them to do good things in life such as play sports while you’re going to college.”
The most rewarding aspect of
community service for all three of these participants is the comfort level the
kids feel with older people that they look up to.
“I think it’s good that they
see college students that have been through what they’re going through,”
Melendez explains. “The kids also become comfortable enough to ask any questions
that they have about schoolwork or anything like that. We can also answer
questions about college, which is important because we give them something to
look forward to in their education.”
“I think its cool for them to
have an older kid to hang out with and talk to,” added Kilgore. “I know
when I was back in sixth grade that anyone over the age of fifteen was like the
coolest person in the world to me. I feel that they’ll listen to everything I
say, and it’s encouraging for them to know that an older kid cares about them.”
Kilgore had a similar upbringing to Melendez, and he attributes his success to his involvement with the this type of program.
“I feel that it’s very
important that I spread out and help as many people as I can. I know when I was
growing up I had a great support system that really helped me do well, so I’m
trying to carry that over to others.”
Kilgore also realizes how
important his involvement is and what it actually means to these kids.
“The knowledge that I’m doing
something valuable by spending an hour making a difference in someone’s life is
rewarding to me. That one hour probably means more to these kids than I could
Junior Chris Doval has never
gotten the opportunity to participate in a program like this, but his love for
kids drew him in.
“Back home, I never got the
opportunity to participate in community service because my high school didn’t
offer it. Once I realized the opportunities present here in Hartford, I really
jumped on it. I’ve always loved kids. When I’m back home, I try to be a summer-camp counselor whenever I can, so I thought, why not? I’m not really doing much
outside of school and football, so why not give my extra time to these kids who
He’s glad he’s finally gotten
the chance to be involved and immediately realized how rewarding it can be.
“I got an idea of just how
satisfying community service can be when my mentee didn’t want me to leave one
day. He just hated when I had to leave, so I realized how much that one hour a
week means to him. That’s when I really realized how personally satisfying
community service could be because I really touched him.”
It’s been such a pleasurable
experience for Doval that not only does his mentee enjoy their time together, but Doval always wants more as well.
“Normally I participate once a
week for about an hour. Every time I do, I want to stay longer, but our time is
restricted to that one hour.”
It is difficult for young students to feel part of a community in a big city such as Hartford. However, with a school like Trinity College present within that big community, it gives those students something to strive for. It’s important for student-athletes such as Melendez, Kilgore, and Doval to get involved and to help these young students stay focused and strive to do whatever they want to do. It’s obvious that the efforts of a community such as the Trinity football team within the surrounding community of Hartford go a long way.