INSIDE BINGHAMTON UNIVERSITY
Geneva Johnson, an 18-year-old Harpur College freshman, has already received nationwide recognition for her community service efforts.
When she was just 15, Johnson started a group called Bring It On! to provide youth service programs for residents of the Bronx neighborhood Eastchester Heights. With encouragement from her mother, Johnson went to a community board meeting and offered to create youth programs.
“I’ve lived in that community, and I knew what it was like to not go to the neighborhood park which is only two blocks away,” said Johnson, whose family now lives in a different part of the Bronx. “People have been shot in cars right in front of my building. It creates fear.”
Bring It On! began in 2004 and now offers five programs, one for young women, one for young men, one focused on environmental cleanups, one that teaches entrepreneurship and a huge annual block party.
In December, Johnson was named a grand-prize winner in Angel Soft’s Angels in Action contest, which received nearly 20,000 entries from children nationwide who are involved with community service. Johnson, the winner of the 16- to 18-year-old age group, will receive $10,000 and a trip to Walt Disney World.
Johnson said she misses being involved with the programs when she’s in Binghamton, but each of them has a director. “We try to keep it for youths by youths,” said Johnson, who noted the oldest director is 22. “We want to set up youths to get used to leadership roles.”
Linda Lisman, coordinator of the Educational Opportunity Program Tutorial Center, said Johnson is more mature than many freshmen. “She has a real positive, can-do attitude, which is great to see,” Lisman said. “She has a quiet sense of confidence that I appreciate in her.”