Service Learning: Changed 4 Good


In January of 2010 a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated the south of Haiti, destroying buildings and taking an estimated 160,000 lives.

Around this time, many people contributed money to help the terrible situation, but some actually got up and went to help the situation themselves. One of these people is our own Ken Sommers. Mr. Sommers attributes his love for service to his mother, Kathy Sommers, who worked hard to teach him right from wrong.

Mr. Sommers first visited Haiti in the summer of 2010 and since then he’s returned eight times and his experiences have led him to create his own aid foundation, and also to lead students in the mission of helping others around the globe.

Mr. Sommers didn’t know exactly he would encounter the first time he visited Haiti, but his experience shaped many of things he’s taken an interest in since.

“It was crazy, I thought I was going down… Everything you saw was westerners shouldn’t come in, it’s too soon. What I found was once you got out of Port-au-Prince, it wasn’t true. By chance, the non-profit that I found was in Jacmel, which was still adversely affected, but much safer and naturally beautiful,” recounts Sommers.

Some of the main reasons why Sommers went down in the first place, was ODA had said that they would support Haitian relief efforts, and Sommers himself found that a small amount of money could go a long way in a place like Haiti.

“I was blown away by the poverty, I was blown away by the rubble in the streets, the trash, the horrific, grinding way of life of the Haitian people who just had this brave stoicism about them. I was overwhelmed by it, first time through, and it would have been criminal for me not to have stayed involved,” says Sommers.

The non-profit that Sommers was first introduced to and first worked with in Haiti, was Haiti Goals. This organization had kids in the community come out and play soccer, and do community work and projects, and at the end of it they would receive a meal. From his experiences working with Haiti Goals, he was inspired to create his own aid foundation, Games 4 Good.

“I loved it [being involved with Haiti Goals], it spoke to my interests in sports, kids, and philanthropy. I said, what if there were other organizations similar to goals that also need grant money… So we launched the Games 4 Good Foundation,” says Sommers.

Mr. Sommers has not only gotten involved himself, but he has also gotten some of the ODA students involved in helping aid foundations around the world through his Community International Development course.

This purpose of the course is to explore how different communities worldwide can be improved and aided. The looks at numerous grant applications for the 10,000 dollar grant, and the class has a say in Games 4 Good’s final decision.

The students in his class have been through some of the same experiences through their analysis of possible grant recipients.

“I really like the class. It’s my favorite class. The grant process is very interesting, because a student usually isn’t able to decide where a 10,000 grant goes,” says freshman Christian Ramos.

“Sommers is a fantastic teacher and class participation is excellent… It’s challenging because there is a lot on the line. You need to average out the scores and you have to be really careful,” says junior Joey Runge.

Mr. Sommers’ life was transformed through his experiences in Haiti, and his experience and passion for helping others bleeds through into his teaching of his CID class. 

“Mr. Sommers is one of the most impassioned & dedicated teachers on campus. His time serving in the Peace Corps in Ukraine humbled him in a way that only the Peace Corps can. Not only is he an acclaimed APUSH (AP US History) teacher, Head Coach of the football team, and a proud father of two of the cutest kids ever, but he always makes time to give back to those who are not as fortunate. He is so impressive and has been one of my greatest mentors,” says senior Gianna DeRamo.