Campus & Community

Community Gifts helps scores of PBHA programs

3 min read

Three programs that work

The Community Gifts Through Harvard campaign is a reminder that you can help those in need with a tax-deductible donation to the charity of your choice through payroll deduction.

Community Gifts logoFor more than 100 years, Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA), Harvard’s student-run, nonprofit public service organization, has made a meaningful impact on the people it serves in the Boston and Cambridge area.

The organization, which resides in a campus building built in 1900 in memory of the Rev. Phillips Brooks, a Harvard graduate, preacher, and advocate for social service, has changed over the years, but has never changed its mission of helping others.

Today over 1,800 volunteers participate in 78 programs on an ongoing basis. Last year, Harvard contributed $9,686 to the PBHA through the Community Gifts Through Harvard campaign.

As a nonprofit, PBHA always needs support to continue and expand its efforts. Contributing to PBHA gives the Harvard community the opportunity to support the mission of the University by supporting the service of Harvard students in surrounding communities.

“In terms of collaborating with communities, the goal is not for us to go into the communities and assume that we know what is best for them. We like to work with whatever already exists in these neighborhoods and communities and try to meet their real and present needs,” says Alicia Rodriguez ’07, president of PBHA.

Three programs that work

The Harvard Youth Leadership Initiative (HYLI) was created last year through PBHA to provide leadership development to more than 80 middle-school-aged youth in Cambridge. At each weekly session, participants come to Harvard to learn skills such as teamwork, decision making, and negotiation in a fun framework. Harvard students host discussions and create projects to help the students apply the skills to real-world situations.

“I really like to think of HYLI as a program that empowers youth about real issues and what they can do as young leaders in their community,” says Gaytri Datar ’08, director of HYLI.

Nimet Eren ’08, works as one of the volunteer directors for the Mission Hill After School Program (MHASP), which provides individual homework assistance to more than 50 children ages 5 to 13 from the Mission Main and Alice Taylor housing developments in Roxbury. The program operates Monday through Thursday and is crucial for children who may not be able to get free tutoring anywhere else. The program also offers optional field trips to museums, cultural events, and recreational facilities to enhance the students’ education and to strengthen the relationships between the students and their counselors.

“Our program really strives to work not only with the children but with their families and the community,” says Eren.

The Suffolk Prison Education program provides one-on-one GED tutoring for male and female inmates at the Suffolk County House of Corrections, a medium-security facility in South Bay. The program also provides help and workshops based on other academic interests the inmates might have, from biochemistry to poetry.

“The value of education is really emphasized here – having more education or a GED is one of the most important factors in reducing the recidivism rates with inmates,” says volunteer Connie Chen ’08.

“Community Gifts is a fantastic opportunity for Harvard faculty and staff to demonstrate their collective commitment to meeting needs in the community. PBHA students are unbelievably dedicated to working in the community and the Community Gifts campaign helps to support their efforts,” says Gene Corbin, executive director of PBHA.

You can support all of PBHA’s programs by donating to the organization through the Community Gifts Through Harvard campaign.