This past summer, I volunteered at Grace Apartments in Denver, which is a property run by Mercy Housing, Colorado. Mercy Housing is a national organization with a nonprofit branch that operates affordable, program-enriched housing for people with special needs. At Grace Apartments, the residents are mainly refugee families. I helped with the summer program for the elementary school children whose families live at Grace. For this academic year, I am interning with Mercy Housing as well.
When I started this semester, I decided to bring UHL students as volunteers together with the children at Grace; I wanted them to work in the afterschool programs offered at the apartments. I was encouraged by and had the full support of the UHL program coordinator and director. Generating interest in community service and involvement within our program has been difficult, so I wasn’t sure how to go about it. Surprisingly (and happily!) over 30 students were interested in volunteering, so I was able to create a full volunteer schedule for this month and next. UHL students will be volunteering biweekly, on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. On Tuesdays, three to four students will help the children with homework and tutoring. Wednesdays are the free time in the afterschool program, so UHL students are bringing their talents, interests, and hobbies to the table to teach the children.
On the 28th of September, we held our first special event. A UHL senior taught the children to skateboard. They were most excited because Josh, the volunteer, had managed to get 25 boards donated for free. This meant they each got to keep their own board. By all accounts, it was quite the success! The kids had tons of fun and both Josh and the friends he brought to help teach told me they hadn’t ever taught kids this excited before.
As we get into the full swing of things within the next few weeks, I’m anxious and excited to see where the kinks are, what they are, and how I will be able to work them out.
Advice, questions, and comments are welcome!