When you stop to pause, and wonder what our world is coming to, there is light amidst the chaos by way of the good people doing good things. Consider, as an example, the organization Builders Beyond Borders (also called B3; buildersbeyondborders.org). The B3 nonprofit organization—headquartered in Norwalk and lead by Executive Director Amy Schroeder-Riggio and Program Director Cindy Wormser—is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary. It has an outstanding record of accomplishment, having mobilized more than 7,175 volunteers to build much-needed projects for communities in the Caribbean, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru and Tobago. Some of these volunteers began their stints as early as eighth grade by working locally. These teenagers, recruited from both public and private schools in Fairfield County and beyond, set exemplary examples. Working collaboratively, B3 creates an atmosphere of giving, and each volunteer serves as a proud ambassador of the United States. Summing it up best is B3’s promise: To stand against discrimination, violence and prejudice; to listen and learn; to be honest, empathic and compassionate; and to continue to take every opportunity to make our communities a better place to build a better world.
B3 shapes leaders and fosters personal development. Volunteers work locally through the fall, and they travel globally during school breaks in February, March and April by living in a community abroad to construct much-needed facilities. As a result, friendships are cultivated and leadership skills are developed as B3 volunteers create an atmosphere of teamwork and congeniality.
Past advisor and past board member Kathy Jamison says: “B3 offers a uniquely valuable opportunity for high school students to discover who they are through service. It’s a privilege to be part of this organization.”
Says student Jack Moley: “B3 has been the best experience of my life and has changed me for the better.”
Parent Deborah Schaefer: “B3 has been an extremely positive experience for both of my children. Not only have they been exposed to vast needs of people from other countries and communities, also they have made lasting relationships. We are a family.”
Alumn and advisor Michael Pavlis: “I love witnessing B3 student volunteers become the best versions of themselves.”
At its core, B3 is about kids and their homage to humanity at a time when we need it most. It is about the gathering of these unique youngsters, who move not just “beyond borders” but “beyond themselves” to bring comfort and hope to families locally and across the globe. Passions are ignited with the goal of embracing cultural immersion, and inspiring volunteerism that will last for a lifetime. It is through these dedicated teenagers’ efforts, and their hands-on participation in work projects, that lives are enriched and personal growth is inevitable, and, with one “builder” at a time, our world evolves and expands.
3 WAYS TO JOIN
B3 (grades 9–12)
A student-led, year-round organization, it promotes leadership skills through positions as advisors, board members, interns and more. Participants work in teams, including abroad, on volunteer projects. Student volunteers work on local B3 projects throughout the fall. During mid-year school breaks, students travel to a country in Latin America to live and physically help build a new facility—such as a school, aqueduct, medical clinic—with a community. The program costs between $3,300 and $3,600, which students can cover through fundraising (B3 guides students through that process).
B3 LOCAL (grades 8 and up)
Through B3LOCAL, students can volunteer for local community service projects. This offers a chance to try volunteer work closer to home and support B3 events, such as its awards program Despedida.
B3 Advisor (adults)
Wish you had done B3 as a teen? Try the next best thing: Helping teens appreciate the opportunity. Serve as an advisor. It means participating in local B3 events and team meetings throughout the year. B3 hosts a three-part Leadership Workshop to support the advisors.