A First-Hand Account from an After School Program Volunteer
In addition to serving as a caring environment where kids can interact playing pool, partaking in arts and crafts, and engaging in organized interactive activities; The Rescue Mission’s After School Program provides children with mentors and tutors who can help them become more efficient, confident, and capable students. Today, I would like to provide my own first hand experience volunteering in The Rescue Mission’s After School Program.
After helping Kayla trace her hand today in the Rescue Mission’s After School Program, ten-year-old Janay approached me and asked me to help her complete her assignment entitled “write the perfect paragraph.” I obliged enthusiastically (I am an English major and writing enthusiast), but after reading the directions I felt inexplicably overwhelmed. Me? Teach you how to write a perfect introductory paragraph?
I read over her assignment again and was appalled by how vaguely the instructions were worded. Suddenly the feat of writing an intro for a 5-paragraph essay seemed daunting and unattainable—I can only imagine how 10-year-old Janay felt. She clutched her pencil over her blank piece of paper, looked up at me with her huge brown eyes and asked quietly, “What do I do?”
Janay’s look of helpless confusion instantly sent me back to the 6th grade—Mr. Leigh with his amazingly large nose and unruly eyebrows, scribbling “Bing, bang, bongo” on the chalkboard and announcing that all three points must support the topic sentence and be stated within the introductory paragraph.
As senior in college, an English major, and the Youth Communications Intern for the organization in which I was presently seated, I was shocked that this memory boost was necessary. But something about being asked to teach this little girl information—something about being the source that determined whether or not she learned how to write an introductory paragraph correctly—had stunned me.
After I regained my composure (which somehow I managed to do by rereading the assignment), we dove in. To help Janay create a claim, or topic sentence, I asked her what her interests were--providing examples such as music and dancing. After a few minutes of brow-furrowed deliberation, Janay announced that she liked The Rescue Mission and wanted to write about why it was a great place to spend time after school. Somewhat surprised, I told her that that was a great idea, and explained that now she needed to support her claim by thinking of three reasons why The Rescue Mission was a great place to go.
Instinctually I assumed that Janay would say she liked The Rescue Mission After School Program because she got to play with her friends. When I suggested this idea, however, Janay quickly shook her head and stated, “It’s because I can get help with my homework.” Needless to say, I was incredibly moved. Here was first-had proof that the Mission’s tutors and mentors were viewed as valuable not just by the children’s parents and the Mission itself, but were perceived as especially indispensable to the children—and the best part of the program itself, according to Janay.
As stated in my previous blog entry, the more volunteers we have at the Mission, the more kids can receive the much-needed one-on-one attention children such as Janay need to excel in school. If you would like to spend time volunteering in the program, please click on our “Get Involved” tab above, or contact our Youth Program Director, James Leet, at firstname.lastname@example.org.