The Sirchios had always believed in giving back – but becoming a WE Family (and getting the chance to dine on grubs!) helped them take their actions even further.
It all started with a chance meeting. Wendy and Kris Sirchio were relative newcomers to Kentucky when they were invited to an event where they met Craig Kielburger, who co-founded the WE Movement with his brother, Marc, and realized that his message regarding the importance of youth participation in social justice work were completely in line with their beliefs. Craig’s own story began at the age of 12, when he read a newspaper article about a Pakistani boy—himself only 12—who was murdered for speaking out against child labour practices in his home country. That was the moment when Craig knew he needed to act. The Sirchios had been looking for a way to participate more in their community and, upon hearing some of Craig’s story, knew that they had found it.
“We really try to think beyond our immediate family and beyond ourselves… We really just try to think about how we can make things better around us, in a broader sense,” says Mom, Wendy Sirchio. “It’s all about helping the kids learn great lessons about how to be good people. The world isn’t going to improve if we don’t all do our part.” Her role as a WE Ambassador and co-founder of WE Day Kentucky gives her a unique perspective on how much difference being involved with WE has made in the community around her.
Getting kids to participate in volunteerism is easier if there is an element of fun in it too. When asked to recount his favorite parts of a recent ME to WE trip to Ecuador, Noah, 14, listed these: “Building the medical clinic… and blow darts … and panning for gold… and eating the grubs! They tasted like chicken and bacon!” His little sister Sophie, 11, who would not try grubs, agreed about the fun of building the clinic.
Kentucky is known as the ‘compassionate state’, so working with WE proved to be a natural fit for Wendy and Kris Sirchio. They started humbly, signing up six local schools in 2012; the kids collected food and clothes, served hot meals at soup kitchens, and collected and distributed 1,586 books to a project created to expose children to reading. It was just the beginning for a small group of kids and parents, which has now grown throughout Louisville and many other parts of Kentucky to nearly 300 schools.
Dad Kris reflected on his experiences with WE in an interview with Insider Louisville and had this to say: “Young people are the biggest untapped source of community value. It’s also clear that kids who get involved have a higher engagement in their communities, stay in school and graduate, have a high voting record and donate more hours in service to their communities.”
Wendy’s advice for families who are thinking that it’s time that they give back? “The WE Families Kit is really fantastic.” The kit (which you can purchase here) includes a book with 25 inspiring activities to get you and your family started living WE. “For someone who hasn’t found the way to get involved in their community. It helps you start thinking about different causes. Once you do it, you keep wanting to do more and it gets easier.”