Making a real difference in our world.
Community partnerships allow 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
Since 2016, Walker’s students and adult have been IRS trained as volunteers in the VITA Program. Walker’s VITA program, which stands for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, is a partnership between the IRS, the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut, and the Village for Families and Children.
In the first three years of the program, Walker’s students were instrumental in helping low income tax filers in the greater Hartford area receive more than $600,000 in refunds and credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit available to low income households. The adjusted gross income of the families and individuals served by our students in the 2019 tax year was $22,249.
Walker’s students are described as “smart, professional and respectful” by adult supervisors at Walker’s VITA sites where they volunteered from January through April. 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 come away from the VITA program with a fuller understanding of the U.S. tax system, tax law and income tax filing on their own journey to financial literacy.
"Being a part of this program has made me see that I cannot just acknowledge my privilege, I have an obligation to act on it." - Alaina V. '20
"I learned about the process of doing taxes, along with the hard work and time it takes. I also learned that being able to help someone, whether big or small, may affect them in a big way." - Nyla G. '22
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.
"I appreciate both the people involved in Habitat and the work they were doing. I can’t help smiling when I remember the trip that changed my life." - Lizzy S. '21
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.