With the Chestnut Hill Fund Drive in full swing, we checked in with past grantees and their constituents about how the generosity of the community has helped them. This week, we hear from Brennan O’Donnell, who credits Teenagers Inc. with his personal development. Teenagers Inc. received a $14,000 grant to subsidize its programming development and refurbishment of its site. Five hundred teenagers are part of Teenagers Inc.

I am a junior at LaSalle College High School which highly promotes every student being involved in service. Even though La Salle has greatly benefited me, nothing has helped make me more the person I am today than Teenagers Inc. We’re a non-profit teen group for all teenagers who reside within the Philadelphia area. Marianne Dwyer, a resident of Chestnut Hill, has been the director for Teenagers Inc. for the last 16 years.

For the last three years, I have taken part in service projects in Guatemala, Camden and Philadelphia. I have formed several new close friendships and learned more than I ever thought I could. In Guatemala, we built a house with fellow service advocates, comforted children at orphanages, played with children in the streets, and provided food and clothes to Guatemalans who needed it. The Guatemalan mission trip is the greatest act I have done in my life, and I intend to go for many years to come.

In Camden, 15 teenagers made and served food for homeless families and took food to a tent city. We also attended a Spanish service and were fully immersed in their culture. At the end of the day, the group stitched a fence where many drug addicts sneak under in attempts to slow or hopefully even stop their problem. In and outside Philadelphia Teenagers, Inc. offers tutor sessions for students who need help academically and holds clothes, food and SPCA drives. This organization has also kept me very active in the community. Events such as Taste of Chestnut Hill, Fall for the Arts, and Reduce, Reuse, Recycle are all examples of community based events where Teens, Inc. has a big involvement.

Teenagers Inc. helped me learn so much about myself, my neighbors near and far, as well as my life. I have learned a lot about the difference I can make in the world and realized a small act of kindness can go much further than you think. Prior to joining Teenagers, Inc., I never comprehended what a great life I have with my education, family, and a home all present in my life. There are millions of kids who cannot attend a school that I go to, millions of kids who have a broken family and millions who have no home. I have God and Teenagers, Inc. to thank for that! I have made many new friends and I am happy because all of them share a deep desire to serve and aspire to make a difference in the world just like me.

Not only has the service organization changed my life for the better, it offers social activities for teens to participate in. In a few weeks, a group of friends and I will go on a ski trip. Last year, I went on the trip and it was extremely fun. We are planning a paintball trip in either February or March, as well as refurbishing the Teen Center. Teenagers, Inc. fully incorporates fun and service for all young people. The formula created through Teenagers, Inc worked for me, and I guarantee it would make an everlasting difference on you. Thanks to the Chestnut Hill Community Association and Fund for this opportunity!

Brennan O’Donnell

Chestnut Hill

To make a donation to the Chestnut Hill Community Fund, visit www.chestnuthill.org or Town Hall at 8434 Germantown Avenue. The Fund Drive will continue through the end of March.

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