A) The name of the agency was Thomas House Temporary Shelter and its mission is to provide a safe, supportive environment and resources necessary for homeless families with children to remain together while empowering them to become independent and self-sufficient. Their program also includes transitional shelter, case management, counseling, life skills development, employment assistance, resource assistance, children’s program, graduate extension program. At this agency, my role was to help young residents or children to succeed in school. I was to provide tutoring for homework help and any other academic work given by the agency.
B) At this agency, it gave me a chance to develop educational relationship with children and to cooperate with other volunteers to successfully aid children with their studying. I never had a chance to teach a child before this community service but after teaching them, I was surprised how much I enjoyed working with them. This volunteering experience definitely improved how I will work with children in the future.
C) In terms of putting myself to this community placement, it gave me a perspective on my own life to appreciate what I have and the family support that I received. Lots of children residing at the shelter experience abusive family relationship and poverty, which has a negative affect on their mental health. Just knowing what these children had to go through made me realize that I had it a lot better than they did and it taught me to be more thankful for what I have. Socially, by being part of this Thomas House Shelter agency, I was able to learn to be more approachable and out reaching to people. Emotionally, I was content that I can help out these children to better them. Intellectually, I felt smarter to be able to teach children when I have never taught children before. Lastly, professionally, I was able to remain professional relationship with the coordinator that was in charge of the shelter.
D) Honestly, in the beginning of service learning, I had doubts about service learning and was expecting not much from it. However, by volunteering at the Thomas House Shelter agency, I was able to meet my service learning goals. I was able to enhance children’s self-esteem and confidence by complementing on their accomplishments. I was also able provide needed assistance to the children while complying with coordinator’s directions. I also learned about what single parent/mothers go through and what we can do to help them to establish a better family. Overall, the whole experience was meaningful and helpful to meet my service learning plan goals.
E) As a result of my placement, I was able to positively influence children on education that it can be challenging. For example, one child that I was teaching was really smart but did not like to show that he was capable of doing hard problems. It seemed like he gets easily distracted and was not interested in showing his abilities to do problems. In order to get him involved with work, I had to encourage him and compliment how good he was at math. Then, he got more involved and he was finally able to tackle some problems that he was not interested before. In my opinion, I was able to encourage children in this community that were not encouraged before.
F) In terms of CSL enhancing the understanding of the course material and making abstract concepts real, I really learned a lot about single mother parenting and poverty issues. The majority of the single parents at the shelter were mothers that were taking care of the children. From the text book, it stated that majority of single parent mothers are from minorities and at the Thomas house shelter, it certainly supported the statement. There were mostly African American single parents and Hispanic or Latino single parents residing at the shelter. There was only one White single parent residing at the shelter out of 15 or more families. It is a sad fact but minority women are the ones suffering the most from single parenting issues. G) The most difficult part about volunteering at the shelter is the working hours and number of volunteers working at the shelter. The volunteer starts at 5:00 PM and it would take me around 40 minutes to get to the shelter from school. Distance wise is not that far but traffic is the cause for a long commute. Another difficulty that I faced is that there are too many volunteers so that I had to compete with the volunteers in order to make connections with the children.
If I had a chance to have one on one relationship with a child, I would be able to make better connection in terms of child and a teacher relationship. The most satisfying aspects of my community work are that working with children and seeing them improve their grades in school. Even though these children are going through poverty and hard time, in the end they are the same children as any other children. They love to have fun and goof around and experiencing these children just made me a better person and content about myself.
H) For the future CSL students, I high recommend volunteering for children if you never have. This was my first time working with children and it taught me the importance of teaching and family aspect of life. These kids are bright and fun, so if you learn to work with these kids to positively influence their life in a right path, it will give you a surreal feeling of accomplishment by working with them.