Spreading a Little Cheer

Once a week I risk my immune system to work with elementary students at an inner city afterschool program, Kid’s Café.  There the children do their homework, read, play, and eat a nutritious meal.  As a volunteer I help with homework, play with them, read to them, help them with crafts, and teach them table manners.

Being there every week allows me to build a bond with the children.  They  feel comfortable asking me for help, playing with me, or having a conversation about their school day.  This relationship gives the children a positive role model to look up to.  The kids know that when they walk through the doors they will be greeted by someone who cares about them.  When the returning children see me they greet me with a huge smile and a “Hi, Katherine!”  Within a few weeks the new kids are walking in with huge smiles as well.

Because volunteers like me are there, the students are able to complete their homework with the individual help they might need.  By reading to the children and having them read back to me, the children’s reading skills improve over the year.  With repeated reminders at dinner time, even their table manners improve.

The best part of Kid’s Café is that the children love coming each day, and I credit that to the special bonds we volunteers make with each child that comes through our doors.


A Modern Day Quest

Once upon a time in the village of Savannah there lived a young, quiet girl named Katherine. Savannah was a quaint hamlet full of history nestled alongside the great Atlantic Ocean which edged the Coastal Empire. Katherine grew to be tall yet graceful and shy yet funny. She wanted an adventure but lacked the chance to have one. In the village of Savannah, adventures were difficult to find. Without adventurous experiences the young girl found deciding on her future path in life difficult.
Then one day a letter arrived from the Newseum which is a large national museum dedicated to collecting news. This letter surprised Katherine and her family. Described on the inside was an opportunity to spend a week studying communications at a conference in Washington, D.C. This city was magnificent place where rulers from all the fiefdoms in the land gathered to govern and protect the nation. To visit this city on her own would be an adventure. There was the possibility of earning credit for institutions of higher learning based on her growth by the conclusion of the conference. Katherine pondered her unexpected invitation. Was this opportunity something she wanted to do? What would the conference be like- tedious, interesting, challenging? Was communications her path to follow? What was bothering this young girl more than any other question was if she had enough experience to be accepted and to enjoy herself at the conference. Would everyone there be editors and chiefs of their school newspapers or write for their local newspapers and magazines or have extreme dedication to communications? If so, would she be accepted to the conference?
Katherine decided she would take the risk of sending in the required writing sample; however, her next challenge was to find a topical essay that was worth entering. For hours she searched for the perfect example of her writing. Eventually, she found one. She sent the sample in and was lucky enough to be chosen as 1 of the 275 students selected from around the nation to be National Youth Correspondents at the conference.
Even though this young village girl had doubts and fears going into the conference, she enjoyed herself. She became friends with all the students in her group especially with two girls from neighboring kingdoms. These girls gave each other nicknames based on where they lived: Georgia, South Carolina, and Savannah. With each other for support, their small but bold group journeyed forth to conquer whatever lay ahead. Together they bought extra-large sweat suits to stuff their whole bodies in to stay warm at night in the frigid rooms. Together they conquered a mountain of cookies: Cookie Mount. Together they reported the weather in the interactive newsroom. With other friends, she wandered the halls of the Capitol buildings. Together they listened, they learned, they laughed. When the day to return home arrived, all were dejected at the thought of leaving their newfound friends .
Katherine returned home to Savannah and realized what she had learned from her adventure. At the conference not only did she learn about the different opportunities within communications, but she also learned she could overcome her shyness and make friends out of strangers. She never thought the conference would strengthen her confidence in making friends especially in situations where she would know no one. Talking with advisors helped her to realize her passion lied more in design that writing. Even though she unexpectedly learned much about herself, one original question was still unanswered- Is communications her path to follow? In order to answer that question she needed professional experience and training from professors.