As a Bonner leader, Sara Balte (C’17) implemented a program called “New Life,” that continues to enhance the lives of people in and around Sewanee. Through the Bonner Leader program, prospective apply for a four-year service internship and leadership program to forge connections with community partners and engage with the greater Sewanee community once on campus as freshman.
New Life is a non-profit agency that serves as a day home for people with intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities in Winchester, Tennessee. Balte’s involvement in the program began when she was asked to make a business plan for their art therapy program at the day center. Although this business was outside of her realm of expertise, she began attending New Life in Winchester when the idea came to her: “What if we start a group that comes to Sewanee?”
Beginning her junior year, approximately ten New Life members began coming to the mountain to hike, go on picnics at Lake Cheston, garden on the farm and at St. Mary’s, and even take a tour of the Sewanee Fire Department. One of the main struggles Balte faced was the lack of volunteers. From the beginning, she did most of the planning and the visits alone; however, she really wants New Life to “engage more with the student body,” and since the inception of this program, it has grown exponentially.