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Milford Teen Creates Website to Help People Help Others

Milford High School junior Elsie Sutherland created a website to help match people looking to volunteer with suitable opportunities at local community organizations. Photo by Elsie Sutherland

Site connects volunteers with opportunities at organizations with needs
By Linda Chuss

Since seventh grade, Milford High School student Elsie Sutherland has been volunteering, most recently at Children Across America where she helps youngsters with math and reading. In 2022, Sutherland took her interest in volunteering to a new level by creating and running a website that presents volunteer opportunities so other people can easily find ways to help others. provides descriptions of one-time events where the organizers need help, as well as ongoing programs that seek contributors on a regular basis. Someone looking to volunteer can peruse the website to find a position that interests them and use the information provided to contact the organization. 
Sutherland explained how she started Community Connector. 
“It was a project I created at the MIT Leadership Training Institute during my sophomore year.” 
Though she had no experience making websites, it was easy for her to learn the Squarespace application to build it. One unexpected benefit is Sutherland is honing her writing skills as she creates the descriptions, focusing on brevity so users can readily skim through.
Currently, there are 15 listings on the website, and those who sign up are notified when new ones are added. The website makes it easy to find opportunities to volunteer and for organizations to list their volunteer needs which can be done simply by contacting Sutherland with the information.
Sutherland also created an Instagram account “communityconnectorma” as another way to spread the word.
While anyone can use Community Connector, Sutherland originally geared it to high schoolers. 
“School clubs, like National Honor Society, encourage members to give back to the community, so students are looking for those situations,” she said. “It was natural to create this for students at my school.” 
After Sutherland launched the website, Principal Joshua Otlin announced it to the high school. “We're very proud of Elsie and genuinely impressed with her innovative, high-impact project,” he said. “She is supporting local organizations who are providing critical services to our community members, and she is showing her peers where they can serve and make a positive difference. This type of ‘clearinghouse’ is just what every community needs.”
As for what’s next for Sutherland, she says she plans to share the Community Connector with other schools in the region. After graduating high school, she intends to go to aviation school in Florida and become a pilot. She also intends to mentor a younger student so they can take over the main responsibilities of the website and allow it to continue serving the community.