Name: Ava Mandoli

What is the name of your TAC project?: The Main Character Project

Number impacted?: 3-5 students weekly, 12-15 different students impacted total

What life-long lesson have you learned from your TAC project? I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned from my TAC project is that collaboration is key. Although I didn’t work on this project with a partner from YWLC, there are so many people who supported me and made this project a reality. My friends and family were incredibly supportive and helped me raise awareness on social media and fundraise, and I was so surprised by how many total strangers were willing to help. I could not have done this without the help of so many people and organizations, and it goes to show how building a social initiative and building relationships with your community go hand in hand.

What is the most unexpected or surprising or interesting thing that happened during or as a result of your TAC journey? The most unexpected thing that happened during my TAC journey was definitely the kindness and generosity that total strangers showed me. During the beginning, I sent a lot of cold emails, trying to get the word out and fundraise for my project. I didn’t get a response back from the majority of people I contacted, but the people that did respond were so incredibly helpful. One woman who owned a franchise of a bookstore even donated $500 dollars worth of books to my initiative, which I was able to give to the social service agency I’ve been working with to create a mini library!

Did you face any challenges in executing your TAC in the face of COVID-19? If so, how did you adapt to the new reality of the pandemic? The pandemic definitely made it difficult for me to do my project because ideally, I would have been hosting these book reading sessions and discussions in person. It was challenging to get students to stay engaged online, but I found that breaking activities into small chunks and switching between them often helped create the variety necessary for kids to focus!