By Carla Charter
YARMOUTH, MAINE- A year ago, Parker Harnett and Zoe Siegel, now sophomores At Yarmouth High School in Yarmouth, Maine were looking to volunteer. They went to various websites to see what the organizations did and what they might want to do. This spawned the idea for their website, www.howtohelpinmaine.org, a one stop site for students and others looking to volunteer in their communities.
“We came up with the idea a year ago. We wanted to make it as easy as possible students to volunteer,” Harnett said. Siegel said Harnett contacted her about the idea in September and the two friends began planning the website.
“We did not have a ton of computer experience. My dad, Kendall Harnett, helped us design the website and help with the coding. We made the decisions and collected the information for the website,” said Harnett.
The site allows people to volunteer, donate money or material objects to a charity who might benefit from them. Those wishing to volunteer in their own communities can search by regions in Maine as well. Also listed on the site are charity events such as 5K walks and winter plunges. Another aspect of the site is a blog page where volunteers are encouraged to send in their stories to inspire others visiting the site and empower them to volunteer themselves. Non-profits can add their charity by visiting the website and clicking on the add your charity button. They can fill out an on-line form and they will be added to the database.
The website was published on the internet two weeks ago, and the two friends have received nothing but positive reaction from both parents and advisors. The Yarmouth High School Principal, Eric Klein, gave the project his full endorsement stating, “The site not only serves as an incredible resource for students, it helps anyone who would like to make a positive difference in our communities.”
Harnett and Siegel also hope the site will help raise awareness about pressing issues affecting Maine residents including issues is food insecurity. “Last year we had a program at school called the Power of One and we learned about food insecurity. One in five people in Maine are food insecure. We wanted to highlight and educate people on the issue,” Harnett said.
Harnett and Siegel say future goals for the site include expanding it and using it to help spread awareness. “We want to get to the point where the charities reach out to us. We also want to build our e-mail list so students can receive information about upcoming events as well as facts about the challenges faced by many in Maine. It’s the education aspect again,” said Harnett. As for their future both Harnett and Siegel are sure that social justice issues will always be a part of their lives.