In 2011, Aja Thompson agreed to work as a junior camp counselor at the Brandywine Valley Association’s (BVA) day camp as part of the Coatesville Youth Initiative’s (CYI) Summer ServiceCorps. She figured she could earn money and get a little more involved in her community. But for her, CYI has become so much more.
In 2013, she was a ServiceCorps team leader in charge of nine peers who worked at a variety of sites, including Waste Oil Recyclers, the innovative, environmentally sensitive South Coatesville firm. There, with two of her team members, she helped create a mural and garden pathway, and harvested 300 pounds of produce for the Chester County Food Bank. “My second year as a team leader broadened my perspective,” she says. “I wanted to be more than just a resident of my community and I wanted to do more for those I care about.”
As she neared the end of her senior year at Coatesville Area High School, this exceptional young woman and stellar student, was named the recipient of the Harry Lewis Jr. Scholarship Award for the Class of 2014.
The CYI has been transformative for Aja, “I feel like the program has given me the ability not to be afraid of my success. “CYI helps us develop ourselves by transforming our minds and hearts to think of others and their needs, as well as the importance of being educated on the power of our voices and our efforts, and how our ideas enable us to create an impact far greater than what we believed could have been achieved.”
Aja is enrolled at Delaware County Community College,majoring in English and works part time as Program Assistant with the CYI. “The work I do now with the CYI inspires me to pursue my greater self by investing in my education so that I can utilize my gifts and talents to the utmost of my ability. I plan to be a writer and in many ways, use it to change and improve the lives of others.”