MADISON VAUGHN ’21
The January Experience of Living, Learning, and Outreach, also known as JELLO, originally started as a service week abroad during J-term, organized through the Chapel Council. Today, JELLO has emerged into its own club and gets involved in the Hartford community year-round.
JELLO’s goal is to be immersed in the Hartford community as much as possible and encourage Trinity students to get off campus and engaged in the surrounding area. JELLO does this by volunteering at local art studios, theaters, and parks throughout Hartford, in addition to soup kitchens and homeless shelters.
The club offers weekly projects and “Service Saturdays” twice a month. Two years ago, JELLO went on weekly outings to Peter’s Retreat to help those with HIV/AIDS. They often spent time with those at the organization playing games and painting. Unfortunately, the organization moved from Hartford this year, but it serves as an example of some of the meaningful volunteer work the club participates in.
This year, President of JELLO Cassia Armstrong ’18, is in charge of a service project at Place of Grace Food Pantry. The club has been volunteering for the pantry for the past four years. On Wednesdays the club sets up, and club members distribute the food on Thursdays.
“My freshman year, I joined JELLO and have been leading since sophomore year,” Armstrong said. “I met a lot of people who were like-minded in the way that they cared about community service. It was cool to be with a like-minded group who cares about Hartford and who cares about trying to be a part of the community. I wouldn’t have known so much about Hartford without being a part of JELLO.”
JELLO also helps with multiple other organizations throughout the school year. For example, they volunteer at Heartbeat of Hartford, a theater company, they help NINA (Northside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance), revitalize Asylum Hill, and they help with Night Fall, a production put on every year in a different park in Hartford that hosts local artists and performers. Additionally, the club has collaborated with other clubs on Trinity’s campus such as Habitat for Humanity and the Green Campus Club.
JELLO continues to honor the club’s tradition of a community service week every January. A group of 10-15 students move in early and dedicate a week to the community of Hartford. Each day of service is at a new location. This January, JELLO plans to help the Wadsworth Athenaeum Museum of Art. On Martin Luther King Day, the museum does arts and crafts and other fun activities for children in Hartford. They also plan to go to the Church of the Good Shepherd, owned by Trinity alumnus, Jack Hale. JELLO plans to help renovate, furnish, and clean to keep the church on the National Register of Historic Places. The club will be working in the Nightfall Art Studio as well. In the past, they have been asked to help make costumes and organize the props, supplies, and costumes throughout the studio. JELLO is still planning out the rest of January’s schedule, but these are just a few of the trips the club plans to make.
The club is always open to volunteers, even if it’s just for one project, and they encourage all Trinity students to get in- volved. JELLO’s January service project is also still open for those interested in spending an extra week in Hartford to volunteer their time. Contact Cassia Armstrong at cassia. firstname.lastname@example.org for more details about the January service week.