Written by Danielle Mullings
Amanda Johnson, a student of St. Andrew High School for Girls, started Outreach Outlet in May 2018. This organization provides an avenue for teenagers, families, young adults and/or businesses to volunteer. Once an individual reaches out using her website, the service will be coordinated for them. All the individual has to do after that is show up. It’s that easy.
Outreach Outlet spreads its belief that students should participate in more community service activities. It provides a niche market as it caters for those who are unsure of the process behind volunteering at homes and organization, a market many Jamaican students and families represent.
diG Jamaica spoke with Amanda about her journey in creating Outreach Outlet. “My first project was a student from the Calabar High School”. Since then the organization has hosted students from The Immaculate Conception High School, St Andrew High School for Girls, Good Samaritan Club of St Andrew High and Prefects Association of Jamaica. Amanda noted the first family she hosted was that of Nadeen Matthews-Blair. The initiative has also been supported by a student of the Excelsior High School, Chesine McDonald. “Chesine donated her time to make Jamaican Sweets for all volunteers after discovering that I payed for each care package with my saved lunch money.”
One of Amanda’s biggest fears was that she wouldn’t have enough money or resources to execute it. For this reason, she did not act on the idea for years. It was not until attending a YCDI workshop that she found the courage to bring Outreach Outlet to life. “There is no better feeling than helping to build a nation. I never regret just taking that head first dive into doing what I love and watching it grow.”
Amanda sees the organization growing to be bigger than she has ever dreamed. She expressed her interest in expanding to accommodate international volunteer interests in addition to the current local market. Her team has also expanded to now include Ashleigh Onfroy – Social Media Manager and Diane Graham – Service Manager. Together, the Outreach Outlet team is committed to building Jamaica.
Here is Amanda’s advice to youth who have ideas they are afraid to do:
- Find a safe space where you can bounce your ideas off others.
- Keep people around you who inspire you to do more.
- It will never be easy but it’s all about how much you want it, how determined you are, how disciplined you are and your faith in God. These attributes will serve as reminders that once there is a will, there is a way.
Amanda also mentioned her that she attended the Wonder Women Tech Conference (courtesy of YCDI) where the founder, Lisa Mae-Brunson, offered her words of encouragement – “If it’s your dream, show up and show out regardless of who comes and you will never regret it”.