Newington High School Teen Gives Back

Francisco Chang
Francisco Chang
Guatemalan-born Francisco Chang arrived in Hartford, via Massachusetts, in 2008, with very little knowledge of the English language. His hard-working parents (his father works as an HVAC helper and his mother cleans houses) instilled in him the values of faith and hard work, to help others, give back to his community, and improve himself.  After successfully transitioning to, and graduating from, West Middle School, he participated in the Choice Program and chose Newington High School to complete his secondary education. He is currently finishing up his junior year and has achieved high Honor Roll since a freshman.

Embodying the values of his parents, Francisco enthusiastically embraces all opportunities presented to him. At Newington High he participates in many clubs (film, Italian) and plays on the track and soccer teams. Outside of school he is actively involved in the Hartford Youth Scholars Foundation, and won two awards for his participation in The 2014 Responsible Design Challenge through the Student Innovation Expo. He won “First place” for the Responsible Design Challenge as well as “Outstanding Documentary."  

In 2013 Francisco participated in a life-changing summer experience that informed his future. Last summer Francisco was accepted into Leadership Greater Hartford's Summer Nexus program, a week-long leadership program for urban and suburban youth, grades 10 to 12, that fosters connections and community involvement through interactive workshops and service learning activities. 

According to Chang, "I participated in the Summer Nexus program because it provided a way for me to give back to my community. Hartford usually gets a bad reputation, but if we work together we can change that. My parents also thought that participating in the program was a great way to show that Hartford is a great place to live." 

Francisco's  Summer Nexus cohort planned and implemented a community service project that partnered with South Park Inn, a local shelter, to create a “Bag of Basics” - toiletry items for the shelter's clients. South Park Inn is one of the few shelters in the region that does outreach - targeting individuals living under bridges and in parks and giving them these bags of basic toiletry items. His group worked for five days calling local stores, friends, family members, dental offices and other retail locations trying to secure donations. On the last day of Summer Nexus, they delivered over 2,200 toiletry items to South Park Inn where they sorted them and created 131 “Bags of Basics." 

Chang credits the program with helping him model the way and live the lessons of his parents, to feel the reward and personal satisfaction of giving back to the community.  "The community service project contributed the most to my overall summer experience. Assembling and delivering the bags was powerful. Summer Nexus was an unforgettable experience. I got to meet cool people from different backgrounds and do community service that will impact the community in a positive manner."  Chang plans to attend college in the Fall - the first in his family to do so in this country. 
Summer Nexus 2014 is being offered in either June (June 22 to 28) or August (August 4 to 10).  Applications are now being accepted. Visit www.leadershipgh.org or call 860-951-6161, x1100.

Leadership Greater Hartford (LGH) is the most comprehensive nonprofit community leadership organization in the country. It provides leadership training to individuals ranging from high school age to retirees, with community service projects featured in most  programs.  These projects and the program graduates continue to have lasting impact in the Hartford region.  For more information about how to be a participant or sponsor or to inquire about customized training with Leadership Greater Hartford, call 860-951-6161 (x1800), email info@leadershipgh.org, visit www.leadershipgh.org, or like LGH on Facebook.


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