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A very proud moment…

16 Feb

Last week I was volunteering at the LeMoyne Center, when one second grade student was pestering and calling Hayden names. Since I first met Hayden we have been talking and trying to find non-violent solutions whenever a student might bother him. It hasn’t been going very well until last week.

Instead of hitting the other student, Hayden went and sat in a corner on the floor without anyone saying something to him. I saw him sitting there so I went and sat with him. He told me that he wanted to beat up the student that was bothering him, but didn’t. We ended up talking about what he did on his birthday and what his presents were.

By the time we were done talking, his angry face was gone, his arms were uncrossed, and he was smiling. I could not have been more proud of him at that moment. He chose to do the right thing and just take time to cool off.

Now whenever I go and he sees me, he runs and gives me a great big hug. It is really moments like this, when you can make a difference in one child’s life that makes volunteering worth it.

-Chelsea

First Experience at President’s Prep.

15 Feb

It was great, actually! It was like being back in high school, though. I was still one of the shorter ones… 🙂

The kids were more respectful than I expected. I was a bit slow on how the schedule went, but I’ll get the hang of it. I expect the Pres Prep program to be extremely rewarding. I can’t wait to go back next Wednesday! (I have the flu or something of the like this week and had to miss.) 😦

 

-Emily

Realizing how Important Volunteering Is

14 Feb

Last week, I found myself incredibly busy and coming down with some sickness (I now know that it is Strep Throat). I was only able to volunteer for one day, and part of another day.

This week, I have Strep Throat in full swing. My body aches, my fever is up, and I’ve quarantined myself to my room for most of the day. I’ve missed some class, some organization meetings, and some time with friends.

The thing that I miss most, though, is not being able to volunteer. I choose to stay away from the LeMoyne Center, mostly, because I do not want to get the children sick. I also could not volunteer at the Family Promise event (and will not be able to until I am non-contagious, starting tomorrow).

It is literally making me go insane and wearing on my heart to not be able to tutor the kids at the LeMoyne and help the families at Family Promise.

Being sick has made me realize that volunteering is a HUGE part of my life, and it should be a substantial part of the lives of others. I really cannot think of anything more meaningful or more rewarding than living life in the service of others, and I miss the kids, all of the kids, very dearly.

When I am feeling better, the first thing I am going to do is prepare for my work at the LeMoyne. After that, I am going to work with Meg and Claire and the other volunteers to spread the word about the LeMoyne Center and the other volunteer opportunities that we can be involved in here at W&J.

We have the incredible capability to essentially operate a homework and more program, to tutor high school, middle school, and elementary school children, to help out families in need, to aid the salvation army, to help with food pantries, and more. We can spread out knowledge and our experience and receive the experience and knowledge of those who live life in a different world than our own. We are lucky and privileged to be able to give back so much, and I want to see us work to give back more.

Being sick stinks when you realize that you are unable to do something that is so important to you. I cannot wait to get back to volunteering.

-Dylan F.

Changing “I can’t” to “I can”

8 Feb

I don’t like the words “I can’t.” I can’t do this, I can’t do that. I’m not old enough, I’m not smart enough, it’s too hard, I’m dumb. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.

Those words haunt me. I am what my mother might call a “glass-half-empty” kind of person. As a rule, I tend to see the negatives before the positives. This is something that I am not very fond of about myself and I have made it my mission over the last four years or so to eradicate “I can’t” statements from my life. That math problem set? I can finish that. Those last two minutes on the treadmill? I can do those too. That argument I had with my sister over something silly? I can be the first person to admit I’m wrong.

Choosing to say “I can” isn’t easy. It’s more than just saying the words, it’s about changing your attitude. At President’s Prep one of my favorite students lives a life full of “I can’t”s. Not that I really blame him. His life is full of obstacles that I can’t even fathom. The first day that I met him he informed me that he was “stupid.” I loathe that word. I could see that he really meant it, he really believed that he was stupid. And why wouldn’t he? It was all that he had ever heard; from his mom, his stepfather, his friends, his teachers. He was struggling through his freshman year of high school with the reading comprehension of a 5th or 6th grader. As we worked through a reading assignment he told me that he couldn’t do this, even as he gave me several correct answers in a row. I told him that he COULD do this, that he was doing it right now. He continued to insist that he couldn’t and eventually stopped answering questions at all.

This continued for weeks. He resisted, I persisted. I banned the words “dumb” and “stupid” from our time together. Kate and the other tutors and I kept at him. It was tough, it was frustrating, it was disheartening.

Until he resisted a little less one day. And the next. And then he volunteered to read in one of his support classes. And got 100% on two vocabulary tests in a row. I still held my breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop, until one day when I was quizzing him on words for an upcoming vocabulary test. I wanted to run through the words one more time, but he looked at me and said, “Alex, enough. I can do this.”

That’s when I knew that he was going to be ok. And so was I. He reminded me to stick to my “I can” promise. It reaffirmed that hard work, persistence, and compassion will always get you farther in life (and volunteer work) than doubt. And that was a lesson that I needed to be reminded of.

-Alex

President’s Prep Winner!

8 Feb

One incentive for attending President’s Prep (other than help with studying and assignments), is that students have their names entered into our monthly drawing to win W&J gear every time that they visit us for tutoring after school. Our winner from January is Danielle! She won a W&J t-shirt and decided to model it for us one day after school. She attends tutoring almost every day after school and she says that it has really helped her grades. We’re all excited to see who next month’s winner will be!

Time Flies!

25 Jan

Time flies when you are having fun! It is hard to believe that January is almost over! The Intersession Volunteers have been ROCKING out at the LeMoyne. We have had some really great activities for the students. On Monday, January 23 the youth learned about the Chinese New Year and their sign and on Tuesday, January 24 they celebrated National Ice Cream Day. Other highlights have included: Winnie The Poo’s Birthday and National Popcorn Day! We can’t wait to see what is in store for February!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

6 Jan

It is a new year at the LeMoyne and the volunteers started back yesterday. It was so great to see the children–we’ve missed them! They were full of energy yesterday and enjoyed a game of basketball and spent extra time at the snack table–very hungry! The volunteers introduced new learning folders and inside each folder is a math and reading packet for each child. Each student has a month to complete the packet… we will see how this new adventure goes.

A Season of Service

13 Dec

This is the last week at the LeMoyne as the W&J students are finishing their finals and headed home for the holiday. The students will be doing a variety of fun activities this week…
The Twelve Days of Christmas
The Holiday Party
Holiday Bingo
Thank you cards for the volunteers

We will be back on the blog in January! Have a Happy Holidays!

Getting Through

7 Dec

Last week, as I was tutoring Matt at the Lemoyne Center, he asked me what it was like to be a college student. I told him about everything that I have coming up: planning Holiday Light-Up Night, my exams, my quizzes, the papers due, my doctors appointments, etc.
He looked at me and said “You can’t really do all of that.”
And I told him I could.

He was working on his packet at the time. I realized, at this moment, that the reason he cannot do the packets like the other kids, and the reason he gets so angry, is because he does not read the greatest.
I helped him through it. I got a packet for myself and started doing my packet next to his so he could work with me. I read over the words he did not understand, and took my time to get him to understand the concepts. I came to realize that the reading was tiring and confusing to the other kids around Matt, as well, so I worked to get them through it will still focusing enough of my attention on Matt.

After a while, he asked me, “Why are you doing the packet if you’re so busy?”
And I told him “If I ask you to do something, I should be able to do it, too, and should be able to use it to help you.”
He said: “But why, though?”
And I told him: “Because I am here, and making sure you get your work done is my job.”
And he asked me “Why do you come here if you’re so busy?”
And I told him the truth in the simplest way that I could: “I’m here because I care about you. I care about all of you and want you to succeed and get good grades and make a good future for yourselves.”

He finished his packet, that day, completely. For the first time, he finished all the assigned parts.

Sometimes, getting through to kids takes a special kind of bond that can only be created by getting to know them and by getting them to trust you. You have to figure out what makes them tick, why they think what they think and why they believe what they believe. You need to know what motivates them, and what takes that motivation away. And you have to respect it, all of it, because children think and act and feel in ways that we cannot fully comprehend. But we can try.

Most of all you have to be able to level with them, because if they do not think that you are genuine, you will accomplish nothing.

I’m proud of the work that I do with the kids at the Lemoyne Center. I would not trade it for anything in the world. It is definitely changing my life for the better.

 

~Dylan Frendt

Salvation Army After-School Mentoring Program

4 Dec

Sara, Thary, and I have been having lots of fun mentoring students at the Salvation Army Mentoring Program! We help the kids with their homework and then complete fun educational activities, like building birdhouses or doing science experiments. Sometimes we just play games like basketball or football. No matter what we’re doing, we always have a lot of fun!

-Alex