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.