Making a real difference in our world.
Community service allows our students to understand the critical role that service organizations play in making a positive impact on our community — and ourselves.
While many schools require community service hours of their students, at Walker’s we approach service as a partnership rather than just another box to check on a list of requirements. Walker’s girls partner with local non-profits on special projects that allow our students to provide service to the community while also gaining valuable skills.
We have established partnerships with several local non-profit organizations. Walker’s students have consistent opportunities to work with each organization throughout the school year.
- United Way Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program
- Connecticut Women's Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF)
- The Arc of Farmington Valley (Special Olympics)
- Church Street Eats
- Gifts of Love and the Community Farm of Simsbury
- Habitat for Humanity Annual Spring Break Trip
- Second Chance Ranch
In the spring of 2017, 24 Walker’s students and four adults were trained as volunteers as part of a pilot program with the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut’s VITA program. VITA, which stands for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, is a partnership between the IRS, United Way and the Village for Children and Families. Twelve juniors and seniors, along with the adult volunteers, were trained to prepare taxes for families and individuals making less than $54,000 per year. An additional 12 sophomores and juniors were trained to greet tax filers to be sure that they had the necessary paperwork to effectively complete their tax returns.
Walker’s students were instrumental in helping tax filers in the greater Hartford area return more than $17M in refunds, including more than $4M in the Earned Income Tax Credit available to low income households. The adjusted gross income of the families and individuals served by our students was $22,615. Walker’s students were described as “smart, professional and respectful” by adult supervisors at the sites where they volunteered. In turn, they acquired confidence and a sense of accomplishment as they worked hard to secure refunds for the new clients they met every hour at tax preparation sites.
Walker’s students came away from the first year in the program with a fuller understanding of the U.S. tax system and income tax filing on their own journey to financial literacy.
"The VITA Program allowed me to gain financial literacy while helping others and their families. It was very rewarding because I also gained confidence, improved my communication skills, and I got real world experience." - Sydney L. '18
"I really appreciate the opportunity to participate in the VITA program. I knew this organization was something that I wanted to be a part of. I was a little intimidated by the fact that I had no experience or knowledge related to tax, policy or finance, however, VITA program trainers assured me that I was able to help. It's an amazing experience and very rewarding."
-Nina Z. '17
The Connecticut Women's Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF) is a non-partisan organization that advocates for women and girls, especially those who are marginalized. A major part of their work is to shape public policy during Connecticut legislative sessions. Walker's students participate in writing and delivering testimony related to specific bills that will come up for a vote. This year, CWEALF's advocacy work will focus on legislation related to women's economic security. This is a great opportunity for students who are interested in government, in learning the legislative process, and who want to make a difference in the lives of women and girls.
The Arc of Farmington Valley is the local affiliate for Special Olympics, which provides an opportunity for people with intellectual disabilities to participate in athletic training and competition. The Ethel Walker School hosts Special Olympics flag football in the fall and floor hockey in the winter. Student volunteers participate alongside athletes each week in practices and scrimmages.
Gifts of Love provides food, clothing, furniture, household items and energy assistance to low-income families in the Farmington Valley. Walker's students help with food drives, fundraising, and other programs.
The Community Farm of Simsbury promotes local agriculture while practicing sound environmental stewardship. The vegetables grown at the farm are distributed through Gifts of Love and other area food pantries. Students care for the animals, help plant and harvest crops, and help organize and facilitate farm events.
Each year during spring break, students have the opportunity to work on new home construction for chapters of Habitat for Humanity. Most recently, these service trips have been to Texas and West Virginia. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat for Humanity International has helped build, renovate and repair affordable houses for more than 5 million people worldwide.
Upperclasswomen at Walker's complete academic service projects in which they get to investigate an area of special interest. At Walker's, self-directed study often produces some of the most remarkable and impactful work that girls do.
For Garet '18, this led to a remarkable experience that connected her love of dance to children with Down syndrome. Working with Cheri Soule, director of Walker's dance program (and the mother of two sons with Down syndrome), they started a creative movement class for children ages three through seven who have special needs. The class incorporates guided and free form movement, and teaches coordinated action, communication, and confidence.
At Walker's, you can pursue your passion and make it more meaningful than you ever imagined possible.