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Saugus’ Mini-Vinnies have big ambitions in helping others

Saugus, Ma. 1-11-8. Mini-Vinnys at St. Margaret's Church Aaron Byrnes, Derek DelVecchio, and Shane Meredith (Owen O'Rourke)

SAUGUS — A handful of teenagers will join together to help others, without asking for anything in return.

“It’s good to know that you’ve helped someone and might have changed their life a little bit,” said 14-year-old Isabella Moreschi, who has already committed to becoming a part of Saugus’ Mini-Vinnies, a group of students who meet regularly to make a difference doing good work in the community.

Jeannie Meredith, Christine Moreschi, and Mike Boudreau are involved with the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and are hoping to recruit a small group of teenagers whose participation with the church has dropped off since being confirmed, but want to volunteer.

They’re trying to get youth who want to be involved with service-based volunteerism an outlet, without offering an incentive. For example, Saugus High School requires students complete 12 hours of community service each semester to graduate. The program will not count toward that requirement.

“What I’m trying to get is kids that want to serve their community without just getting a write-off for it,” said Meredith, who is also the chairwoman of the school committee. “I don’t want it to be that they’re doing it because it’s a mandate. I want kids who want to do it just because they want to help. If a parent called and asked me if their child could get involved, I would ask them to have their son or daughter call me.”

The teens in the group agree that not offering any incentives for the work will ensure that everyone involved is there solely to benefit others.

“People like us like helping people,” said 17-year-old Derek DelVecchio. “It feels good to have people working to make Saugus a better community.”

The Mini-Vinny’s youth group at St. Margaret’s Church in Saugus. back row left to right: Aaron Byrnes, Shane Meredith, Derek DelVecchio. Front row left: Gabriella Morischi and Isabella Moreschi. (Owen O’Rourke)

Aaron Byrnes, 17, and Shane Meredith, 16, spend time distributing food at soup kitchens and handing out hats, mittens, scarves, and blankets at My Brother’s Table in Lynn three times a year.

“We take so much for granted,” said Meredith. “These people are living on the streets and we give them something simple and they say ‘God bless us’ when we get to go home to a house with heat in a car with heat.”

Working from a list from the Housing Authority, the teens will shovel snow from the walkways and driveways of elderly people in town as their first project.

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