Orlando Regional Alumni Meet-Up Recap
Hi! We are the Riley’s Way Alumni Committee. Our names are Phoebe Grace, Agha, and Michal and we work very closely with Stephanie Kingston and Cheyenne Rosado. We recently had the pleasure of planning the inaugural Riley’s Way Regional Alumni Meet-Up in Orlando, Florida.
Riley’s Way was founded nearly ten years ago and during that time, the Foundation has impacted thousands of lives. As the newest committee at Riley’s Way, our mission is to continue catalyzing the impact that our very first community members – and our newest members – felt on day one of Riley’s Way. Our committee will foster connections between Alumni from Riley’s Way Councils and Chapters, the Call For Kindness, Youth Leadership Retreats, and the rest of our Riley’s Way family.
Our committee member, Phoebe Grace, recently graduated from high school. As school came to an end, Phoebe Grace wondered what would happen with Riley’s Way: would she graduate from the Foundation? When Phoebe Grace asked Laura Kikuchi Dunn about what would happen, Laura wrote, “You never really graduate from Riley’s Way.” Laura’s sentiment is what we, as a committee, want to strive to convey in the work we do.
That’s why we were so excited about our first programming event: the inaugural Riley’s Way Regional Alumni Meet-Up in Orlando! The one-day event included a service activity and dinner where we heard about the work of two current Call For Kindness fellows, played Riley’s Way trivia, and deepened connections.
We chose to partner with Clean the World Foundation for our service project on Saturday, January 21. Clean the World Foundation works to provide individuals with access to sanitation, hygiene products, and clean water. One way they work towards this mission is through their partnerships with local hotels. When hotel customers leave a hotel, they usually leave behind many bottles filled with shampoo, soap, conditioner, and other toiletries. Before Clean the World Foundation began their work, hotels would throw away all of the unused items. But through their partnership with local hotels, Clean the World Foundation is now able to collect the partially used toiletries and recycle them. The recycled products are then donated to organizations across the world. As a group, we organized and repurposed 16,000 bars of soap and sorted and recycled 5,000 pounds of plastic.
After volunteering at Clean the World Foundation, our committee headed to the University of Central Florida, home to Riley’s Way Alumni and current Alumni Engagement Intern, Tatiana Simmons, and Riley’s Way Alum Aneesha Nayak. On campus, we spoke to students about Riley’s Way, the Call For Kindness, and kind leadership. We interviewed students and parents about what kindness means to them, how they would want to impact their communities, and more. We got a lot of great responses. Look out for some sound bites on our TikTok account @rileyswayfoundation coming soon. We’d also love your help making more interview videos like this! Check out this how to guide to help us spread the word about the Call For Kindness in your community.
To finish off the day, we had dinner at a wonderful restaurant called Teak Neighborhood Grill. We heard from 2022 Call For Kindness Fellows Banks Vadeboncoeur and Angeles Mejia about their work. Banks leads The Young Writers Workshop, which focuses on partnering underserved youth with creative writing workshops. Angeles is with the Justice Is Us Project and teaches afrocentric civic education to Black youth. We also played Riley’s Way trivia and ate a lot of brownies!
Our time in Orlando was magical – the city is truly the happiest place on earth. We hope this event will be the first of many Riley’s Way Regional Alumni Meet-Ups all across the country. Our next projects include a pilot workshop at Emory University, home to Riley’s Way Youth Advisory Board Co-Chair, Agha Haider, the launching of an Alumni Scholarship, and another Riley’s Way Regional Alumni Meet-Up this spring/early summer in New York City.
We are really excited about where our Committee is going. We recently welcomed an amazing new cohort of Youth Advisory Board members, including Julia Best, Lexi Horner, Julia Huth, Anika Nayak, and Tiara Soto who have all decided to join the Alumni Committee. We are so excited to expand our Committee and are always open to new ideas on how to expand our Alumni program. Please email Riley’s Way Engagement and Events Director, Stephanie Kingston, at email@example.com with any questions or ideas.
Phoebe Grace, Agha, and Michal