It's an unfortunate reality that many children in the United States don't have the guidance or the support structures in place needed to help them succeed in life.
Merck volunteers are working to help fill this gap with at-risk children and young adults in their communities by working with Making Positive Choices, a Merck volunteer program.
Making Positive Choices is administered in coordination with Street Law, Inc. - a nonprofit organization that creates classroom and community programs that teach people about law, democracy, and human rights worldwide. Street Law programs empower students and communities to become active, legally-savvy contributors to society.
Merck volunteers teach law, health, community safety, career planning and advocacy to middle and high school students, and young adults aging out of foster care.
which concentrates on building life skills that help teens participate in their community as responsible citizens. Teams of Merck volunteers partner with local schools in PA and NJ to teach sessions on conflict resolution, bullying, diversity and bias awareness, and safety to middle school children.
which helps students explore future career possibilities. Merck volunteers provide guidance to high school students on searching for a job and interviewing skills.
YOUTH IN TRANSITION,
which provides at-risk youths who are aging out of the foster care system the assistance they need to develop basic life skills. In partnership with local residential programs, Merck volunteers help empower youths transitioning out of foster care and provide guidance to help them live independently.
For Kirke Weaver, an Associate Vice President in our legal department, volunteering with Making Positive Choices was an easy decision.
“I enjoy working with young people and trying to make a difference (even a small one) in their lives...I hope I show that a career path is a journey; that they don't have to know at the age of 18 exactly how their life is going to play out and then giving them skills to adapt to those changes.”
Many of the young people in the Making Positive Choices program lack the guidance or monitoring that can help with social and academic success. Volunteer and senior scientist Puja Malhotra says that the curriculum gives these kids an added boost – and it's a simple, yet beneficial, thing to do. "It's very easy to participate thanks to our training. I truly believe Merck is not just giving back to community but also giving an opportunity to volunteers to feel great and positive toward life."
Thomas Muller, who works in Merck's IT department, credits our innovative Global Employee Volunteerism Policy, which lets employees take 40 hours of paid time off to engage in volunteering efforts, for helping him find the time to devote to Making Positive Choices. "I was initially concerned about the timing of the volunteer session being in the middle of the work day but my Merck manager was fully supportive. When you see first-hand some of the challenges these kids face, through no fault of their own, it makes you want to pitch in and lend a hand to help them if you can."
Merck employees have touched the lives of more than 3,600 young people in Making Positive Choices since its inception in 2010.