People Who Empower People
Note from the Editor: This is the first in a series called "Wethersfield Heroes," where our students work to highlight and honor those in our community going above and beyond amidst the tumultuous year. If you know someone that you would like to nominate as a Wethersfield Hero, please contact Mr. Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Emily Sousa
With the world being in a dark place right now, there is a needed light, something to bring people together in a time where people are divided, and that is what PEP (People Empowering People) is doing for the Wethersfield community. The PEP is a group of volunteers and members who plan events to get people involved in their community and help people find their voice and strengths.
To get a better understanding of the amazing work the members of PEP are doing, I interviewed the founders of PEP, Jeanne Berasi (The Wethersfield PEP Facilitator) and Kim Bobin (Wethersfield´s Family and Early Childhood Coordinator).
Mrs. Berasi runs the classes and keeps the events going while Mrs. Bobbin communicates as she has an office in town hall. PEP is an organization, where the participants go to 10 classes then afterwards they plan either one big project or multiple small projects. All the participants meet up and discuss a project that they are all passionate about, and that will help the community
“There is a lot of training leading up to the projects, that talks about communication, successes, and about failure and you keep trying even if you fail your learning,” Mrs. Berasi said. Their goals are to help people get involved in their community and to help people find their own inspiration and strengths.
Even through COVID, their goals and plans to help the community were not stalled. For one of their most recent projects, Porch Portraits, Mrs. Berasi and her daughter Gabby went to peoples’ houses and took pictures of them from a safe distance. This project was a safe way to bring communities together all while raising $4,000 for local food banks.
Mrs. Berasi and Mrs. Bobbin started PEP to bring communities together and help people find their strengths which are their families and where they come from.
Kim Bobin discussed her inspiration in working in this organization,“It's my mom and my family. My mom is from Mexico, and when I was a kid going to Mexico I always felt like I didn't belong, and also as a teenager kind of felt like I didn't belong and so I'm just passionate about making sure people feel like they belong. Everybody has something special right and sometimes we just need someone to remind us what that is.”
“I worked in international education for a long time, and helping people feel welcomed and helping them adjust to different norms and that is all very important and I know the struggle. My father is from Italy, he came here and spoke a different language and was held back in school, just making sure everybody feels comfortable with changes and with what's expected,” Jeanne Berasi added.
PEP can be described in many ways as one big family. With a collective group of people working together, everyone knows and hangs out with everyone, they have reunions to bring old members back.
Kim Bobin added, “My office is just covered with pictures of kids and families, and again I feel like that for me is where the heart of it comes from. I just love that feeling, I always wanted a big family and I love the feeling of having a family that speaks multiple languages, and different ages.”
PEP is a UCONN extension program, formed by two friends for a partnership that will last forever. With the idea of helping people find themselves and bringing communities together, this group has done amazing work for communities everywhere. Look out for their latest projects Bicycles On Maine, coming to Old Wethersfield very soon.
Remember to say hi to your neighbor, say hi to someone who is by themselves, invite them to your table and in the words of Kim Bobin, “Invite them to the table, and, if there is no room, make a bigger table.”
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