Concord Academy Students in Action (CASA) is one of CA’s longest-running clubs, part of a longstanding tradition of community service passed on by previous generations, including an active CASA precursor, Volunteers in Action. This year, the co-heads of CASA—Christina Crowley ’23, Maggie Myslik ’22, Zoe Perlis ’22, and Nirantheri Vithiananthan ’22—approached their efforts with a fresh focus: providing meaningful service with a focus on ensuring that they are helping people in the ways they need to be helped.
To that end, the co-heads have focused on educating themselves about a variety of issues their members bring to meetings and have prioritized connecting with local organizations to confirm that what they are doing to help is beneficial. Among their many projects, CASA students have placed particular focus on addressing food insecurity. During the fall semester, building on the particular interest of a club member in this area, they made time for discussions about root causes with the hopes of acting rooted in awareness of their own privilege. Then they took action, working with organizations such as Open Table and Community Servings, with the latter on its “Pie in the Sky” annual Thanksgiving bake sale fundraiser.
CASA club members and friends make fleece tie blankets to donate for children in Brookview House in December.
“CASA is the place where we first felt inspired to get involved, and we stay active because there’s always something more we can be doing to help,” the co-heads say. “We also have such meaningful connections with the organizations we work with and have been able to see the impact of our work.”
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, volunteering locally in person has been challenging,” says science teacher Susan Flink P’13, who has long been the faculty advisor to CASA. But, she adds, CASA adapted. Last year, instead of making blankets for Brookview House, an organization serving women, children, and youth experiencing homelessness, they made blanket kits for families to assemble. This year, they happily resumed this annual project together in person in CA Labs.
This spring, CASA has played a major role in facilitating collaboration across the school to plan service activities for the campus celebration of CA Centennial Days of Service and Sustainability on April 22. “Together, we ensured that our day will be spent doing meaningful workshops that are impactful to the greater community and are truly making a positive difference, rather than partaking in performative activism,” the co-heads say. “We are so excited to celebrate CA’s birthday and hope the CA community finds the work on this day as meaningful as we do.”
The CASA co-heads encourage all students to share ideas for service with them. “CASA is such a big organization that we have the ability to take on multiple projects at once,” the co-heads say. “We love when people come to us with ideas, and we do our best to make them happen.” After April 22, CASA’s plans are to help relief efforts in Ukraine and collect art supplies to donate to Sri Lanka.