The Days Add Up

16 Nov

The beauty of volunteering is that you have the freedom to work in any area you please while still working towards a common goal of helping others and bettering the future. As my second year of being an AmeriCorps Fellow, I knew exactly what areas peaked my interest and best suited my abilities. I had the opportunity last year to explore the vast array of possibilities in volunteering and really hone into what was most important to me. I spent time all over the gamut, from the Lemoyne Center working with young children, to Pres Prep at Washington High School helping in after school tutoring, to babysitting children in the morning to give mothers a break, to even cooking and serving a local church spaghetti dinner. Even though some of these may not have been my ideal work, I learned a great deal from them and saw that helping others can come in so many different ways and that they are all equally important if we are to make a better world.

Now knowing this, I am able to devote my time to Pres Prep, Family Promises, PAL tutoring, and an adult GED education class. I find my favorite things involve helping older children or adults and working on specific areas like math and sciences because those are my favorite subjects so why not share them with everyone and see if anyone else likes them as much as me.

Pres Prep is hands down my biggest focus as working with those kids at the high school is incredibly important. I have the chance to turn a kid in the right direction and get them excited for school, instead of them waiting to drop out. Many of them are very intelligent, but they do not have the drive or the care to want to graduate and possibly go on to college. I think it takes one person to step in their lives and show them the endless chances they can create for themselves with just a bit of work now. It may be hard at first, and you may come up against a lot of opposition, but that makes the end result so much more rewarding. I remember last year that two kids would come in everyday after school and mess around and refuse to do any work. Finally, after about three weeks of begging, we broke through and got them to start to study and really care about grades. And what difference it made! They took failing grades and turned them into something spectacular. In fact, the one kid went six straight weeks with perfect vocabulary tests just by staying on his work and doing a little bit of studying each day with us after school. It’s stories like this that make me want to continue volunteering and go back every day to see the improvement that has come with only one extra day of work because those days add up and eventually lead to good habits and a kid that is now graduating instead of dropping out.

The point here is that do what makes you happy and go into an area that you have a passion for. All areas are important and there is no one better than another because people are all so unique and want help in their individual areas. Spending just a small amount of time may make all the difference and turn a life around for the better.

– Nikki Hladik

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