Right after being laid-off, I signed up to volunteer at a new summer reading camp created by a volunteer from First Unitarian Church and held at School 22. Friends were doing it and I suddenly had the time to join them, two mornings a week, for six weeks.
The children, ages 3 to 6, were fun to work with. There were also some challenges. I jumped in and tackled needs that I noticed. I created name tags for each child using cardboard and string (because that’s what I had available). I tracked which volunteer read with which child, to encourage continuity from session to session. I kept track of time and moved the children from reading time to craft time to game/snack time.
Very soon, I was recruited to fill a part-time job coordinating the church’s school-year volunteer program at two city elementary schools: School 22 and Children’s School of Rochester #15. I’m filling in for someone on medical leave.
At first I didn’t think I should do the job. I’m a journalist, and I assumed I would focus all of my attention on work that uses my writing and reporting skills.
But after more thought, I saw multiple reasons why coordinating a tutoring program could be a good fit for me. I’m a city school graduate and I’ve been a city school volunteer off and on for 18 years. I want city students to be successful, and I think added attention, encouragement and tutoring from caring adults can help. So I’m a big fan of the program’s goal. And of work that matters. In turn, I benefit from seeing students faces light up when they see me. And it’s great to see students grasp new things — and to help them do so.
I so appreciate the remarkable number of people — more than 70 so far (doubling the size of the program) — who’ve come forward to volunteer.
(And yes, we could still use more volunteers, to reach more students.)