By Catherine Friendly
I’m Catherine Friendly and I’m a Junior at The Winsor School in Boston and live in Wellesley. I became involved with Youth in Philanthropy in the spring of 2018, when I participated in the Wellesley program. Seeing all the amazing work that nonprofits are doing in our area was eye opening and I was proud to be able to help fund some of their work through the YIP program.
I have been surrounded by politics all my life, from campaigning in New Hampshire to texting thousands of potential voters to get them to the polls on election day. I knew I wanted to run for office one day, so I decided, why wait? In March of 2019, I was on the ballot to represent my Precinct in our Town Meeting for a three-year term. (Town Meeting Members meet twice a year for several weeks to vote on issues concerning our town.)
I ran a serious campaign, because our precinct had a contested race, and I wanted to bring a young person’s voice to the discussion. Similar to YIP, I had to learn how to engage people in the community. I sent out postcards, I made yard signs, and sent tons of emails. I even enlisted the neighborhood kids that I babysit to hold signs for me on election day, and I won.
Most of our work entails approving the Town Budget of nearly $170 million dollars. While 67 percent of our Town Budget goes to funding our schools, we vote on other expenses and issues like banning plastic bags. It’s a lot of listening to presentations, but I’ve learned to read a town budget, which is complicated but really interesting. I was very excited to vote on funding both a new fire truck and a duck bridge in my first week in office!
It is rewarding to be involved in my community and to have my voice heard and counted the same as an adult’s. As Greta Thunberg has shown us with her leadership of the climate strikes, you are never too young to inspire others to action. I would love to have more young people participating in our town government! Even though it was uncomfortable at times to ask older people for their vote, I learned by telling people what I cared about, I could convince them to support me. Like Greta on an international stage and me in town politics, young people need to take a stand and get involved.
I have started a club at my school called Winsor Political Action Club (WPAC), a political forum designed to provide a platform for discussions on current topics in a non-partisan manner. Our goal is to create a space where all students and faculty can better understand opposing view-points, allowing for deeper discussions and more informed opinions.
I am also a member of the YIP Junior Board, because I wanted to help grow the program to reach more people. I am on the recruitment committee and I am excited to encourage new high schoolers in the MetroWest area to get involved in YIP!
Learn more about the Youth in Philanthropy program.