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    Wednesday, August 17, 2022

    Norwich holds recognition event for Jodi Savage

    Jodi Savage, left, and John Iovino during a recognition event for her 16 years as director of Project Outreach.

    In 2015, when Sarah Carter was a freshman at Norwich Free Academy, she considered transferring. Like others, she felt overwhelmed by the major change in their schooling environment. She had moved from Lisbon schools to an academy she described as a small city. In the face of students discovering who they are, students require guidance. For Carter, Jodi Savage was the perfect mentor.

    Carter was introduced to Savage by John Iovino, NFA’s Director of Community Relations. Iovino had sent many of his students to join Project Outreach, a program he believes empowers students to discover themselves.

    Project Outreach has existed for over 50 years to connect students to their communities while

    Jodi Savage stands with her past students at her recognition event following their testaments to Project Outreach and her impact on their lives.

    leadership skills by volunteering. When Savage became the Project Coordinator, she “took the time to make the program her own,” according to Iovino.

    She explained that for any program at a school to be successful the effort needs to come from the students. At Project Outreach, education is a big component but giving the students the chance to direct that education is what makes them feel involved.

    Carter later became a Project leader during her freshman year and worked on a variety of volunteer work from raising money for the homeless to baking bread for a local soup kitchen. As a leader, she helped to decide what work the group would do. Carter said “Jodi took the time to welcome me into the school. She took pride in making everyone feel welcome.”

    Savage said, “it’s important for kids to know they have a voice and that they can be advocates just as much as adults can.” She said learning this allows them to not only understand their community but better understand themselves. By providing that framework to students the program became unique from others.

    Several years later Carter is now a college student and working on her degree in social work. Savage has also since announced her retirement from her position this year. Erin Haggan and the Norwich City Council organized a recognition event for her commitment to her students and investments in helping the people of Norwich.

    During her recognition, it was noted how Savage took the time to build Project Outreach beyond the school and into Norwich. Carter and Joseph DeLucia, the President Pro Tempore of Norwich City Council, spoke about Savage’s ability to connect programs at NFA to the efforts of others in the town during the event.

    “We in Norwich are Blessed to have someone like you,” DeLucia said in his proclamation. He continued by explaining how Savage worked with others, such as Haggan and her’s 10-year collaboration in town and at Project outreach to produce a town-wide suicide prevention walk, a partnership with Norwich Rotary Foundation to create the Norwich Community Backpack program, and other efforts to expand her work beyond NFA.

    Now that Savage has left the program, people believed it was important to celebrate her contributions. “It was important for this to happen because people need to know they’re appreciated and help foster that drive and motivation,” Haggan said, “It’s really uplifting and inspiring for her to hear these messages, but also for other people to hear how much difference one person can make in the community. Maybe then, people will ask what more can I do for my community?”

    Savage will now be working at Colchester Senior Center and continue helping those in need. She said she feels now is the time to move on and apply those same skills but with a different group of people. “Project outreach will always be in my heart… and truly I was afforded the opportunity to make it my own,” She said, “I would hope whoever they hire to fill the position comes in and makes it their own, listens to the kids, and again allows it to be student-driven. But It’s important for them to make it their own because it won’t succeed if it’s not something they love.”

    Jayden Colon is a Montville High graduate and a senior at UConn studying Political Science and Journalism. He has published several news stories for the Times that can be found at the theday.com.

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