By Kim Jorgensen

The Tyrone-Donegal Partnership Wider Horizons group is coming to the end of their six-week program in Boston. This summer, the group is training in media and spent much of their time here volunteering in community access television stations.

Not only are the participants gaining valuable experience with hands-on work at the community TV stations, but they are given the chance to let their own creative juices flow by directing and producing short documentaries about three local non-profits: the Irish International Immigrant Center, 826 Boston, and Beaverbrook STEP. Smaller teams of four to six members have each been assigned an organization to film.

At the Irish International Immigrant Center, the group is highlighting clients that the IIIC has served in order to showcase the good work of the organization. The team can be found hard at work, setting up cameras, discussing plans, and speaking with staff and clients.

“I am so impressed by their professionalism…and how engaged they are” says IIIC deputy director Ronnie Millar. “The team knows what they’re doing, [both] technically and in terms of the telling the story.”

Through interviews with both staff and clients, the video will present an overall picture of the work of the organization. The IIIC is excited for the final product, anticipating that it will be a great promotional tool, highlighting its services and benefits for the immigrants of Boston.
826 Boston serves kids in the Boston community, providing not only tutoring and academic help, but by encouraging and nurturing their creativity through expression in the written word. The Wider Horizons production group documenting this organization, working with 826 Boston volunteer coordinator Raquel Kaplan, is focusing on 826’s volunteers with a specific eye toward volunteer recruitment.

The experience with the Wider Horizons group has been “really fun”, says Kaplan, adding that it seemed the work of the organization “really hit home [for the group] when they started doing interviews.” The group interviewed both volunteers and staff and spent some time documenting the after school programs, discovering one participant in particular who went from limited English skills to writing pieces for 826 Boston’s publications. This is a true success story, illustrating how the programs of 826 Boston can benefit the students of the community. Kaplan hopes that this project will provide promotional footage for 826 Boston to make use of when reaching out to potential volunteers.

Beaverbrook STEP provides support for adults with developmental disabilities through day programs and residential services. “[The group] is highlighting both our day services and our residential program,” says Jessica Kirwan, a senior director. “They’ve done a really great job integrating themselves [with our clients]…and they work well together.” By getting footage from both the environment surrounding the day programs as well as from the residences, the team can present a clear picture of the services that Beaverbrook provides.

Kirwan adds that she is “very pleased” with the work of the Wider Horizons team, and expects that their final product can be used for interested clients, giving them an overview of what Beaverbrook STEP is all about.

This opportunity to contribute to Boston nonprofits provides a strong learning experience for the Wider Horizons group to hone their media production skills as well as to experience more of the culture and community of Boston, their temporary home.

IIIC’s director of Learning Exchange Programs, Ann-Marie Byrne is very grateful to all involved, “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Community TV stations, the host families and the participating organizations involved in the 3 different productions, for contributing to this program’s overall success.”