A Quarter Century of Impact
“My first experience with Need in Deed was working on a service project with [NID founder] Whim Lynch as a 9th grader at Springside School,” Megan McGowan told us recently. “We voted on an issue and chose hunger. Throughout the year, a group of us would volunteer at St. Mary’s soup kitchen once a month, preparing and serving meals. My experiences with NID as a high school student changed my perspective and sparked something in me – I knew I wanted to help people.”
Megan credits her early experiences as one of the original “Need in Deed kids” with helping set her on a course that not only led her to study social work, but also to work for Need in Deed as an intern and later as a program director for several years. She collaborated with Whim and other staff to lay the groundwork for NID’s My Voice service-learning framework.
Megan saw firsthand the benefits of connecting students and community partners - positive adult role models from the students’ own communities – and of connecting students from all over the city to experience the wealth of social and cultural opportunities Philadelphia offers. “The message to the students was clear: This is yours as much as it is anyone’s,” Megan says. It’s a message that too many young people in Philadelphia never hear.
As a staff member, Megan says “being in the classroom was the most important thing to me, getting to watch the changes in the students.” Though NID’s model has evolved over the years to ensure the organization’s sustainability and increase our impact, Megan emphasizes that the core values and most important parts of NID have remained unchanged.
“The process – of learning from community partners, of coming to consensus around an issue, of connecting to resources in the city, of celebrating what students can accomplish – is what is most important,” Megan says, remarking on how far NID has come since she was a 9th grader. Now a mother herself, she hopes that her children will have similar transformative experiences both in school and out, which is part of why she continues to support Need in Deed.
Of NID’s program, Megan says: “Once people get it, it clicks. It just makes perfect sense.” From a single classroom in Chestnut Hill over 25 years ago to 65 projects in 42 schools throughout Philadelphia today, Need in Deed continues to grow because of the collective strength of our partners: students, teachers, community organizations, corporations, and individuals like Megan. Thank you for being a part of our story.
Photos, top to bottom: Students from Springside School work on a mural at Germantown's Happy Hollow Rec Center; Megan in her role as Program Director