Monfredo: Eber Making a Difference for Middle School Students
Saturday, June 30, 2018
John Monfredo, GoLocalWorcester MINDSETTER™
He became involved after his dad, Jim Eber, met the founder of the Minnesota based Simon Says Give, Mandi Simon, at a confers several years ago. Hearing about this project, son Simon embraced the idea of helping others and started a chapter in Worcester when he was in the 8th grade at Forest Grove Middle School and with the assistance of Dad registered his chapter for non-profit status.
The challenge to Simon was how to get the needed resources to make the program work? Thinking outside the box and with his bar mitzvah coming up he decided to donate all the money that he would receive from his bar mitzvah and in addition asked his friends and family to do the same on his behalf. Simon, according to his father always wanted to be part of a change in the community but also wanted to be involved in that change and this was his opportunity.
After seeing many kids struggle to get back-to-school supplies, He knew bringing this organization to Worcester would make a difference.” True to form, Simon declared, “I think that every child deserves to have the items needed to be productive in school and this will be my way of making sure that happens.”
Thus, he started a crowdfunding page on Crowdrise.com and asked family and friends to donate money instead of giving him presents. The goal at that time was $1,500 and he raised $2,345. At the same time he and his dad went to several businesses for assistance and also applied for grant money. They received the first grant from Bay State Savings in Worcester for $1000 and that was followed by grants from Webster Five, DCU and Comerstone. Then there was the wine tasting party at The Wine Vine and that brought in over $1000. Other money came in from Dad and Simon donating their birthdays to the cause. In 2017, when it was all over, $10,000 was raised.
In 2017, 160 backpacks were brought to several elementary sixth graders before their exit into Middle School. This year it was increased to over 300 backpacks with the average price per backpack to be around $65 and the supplies close to $25. He also provided additional ones to quite a few Middle School students who were in need of this resource. The students also had the opportunity to select the color for their backpacks.
Over $10,500 were spent on this year’s project. “Every dollar donated for a backpack went to creating those backpacks for Worcester Public School students and with the few leftover supplies we plan on creating more this fall,” stated Jim Eber.
Most impressive was at each school’s event Simon spoke to the students about this project, answered questions, and then gave each student their gift with a big smile and a handshake. Most importantly, Simon at the age of 15 is serving as a role model for those students and he also encouraged them to assist him next year as he packs the bags with supplies. For his efforts, Simon has received emails and thank you cards from the schools and from the students.
Simon’s goal next year is to raise enough money to purchase 500 backpacks and as Dad echoed, “I’m going to need a bigger U-Haul and a storage unit!” It has truly been a father-son adventure with the end goal of making a difference within the community.
Simon Says Give to Worcester’s second program is having a birthday party for children in need. All the birthday cakes are donated by Queen’s Cup at 56 Water Street in Worcester. The goal this year according to Simon is to be involved in twenty-five birthday events.
When Simon was asked what’s in store for the future? His response, “I am inspired to help other people but I do not know what I want to do in the future for a career. I know I want it to be related to helping others.”
Let’s keep on following this young man’s career for it will continue to be in making our community a better place for all. Let’s hope that Simon stays in Worcester after his college days for we need his leadership in this community!