Volunteers play a meaningful and necessary role at Girls Inc of Alameda County. At every age group, volunteers build a bridge between Girls Inc. programs and the community. Over the summer we had corporate volunteers conduct remote field trips and internships. In August, individual volunteers started as essay mentors and academic assistance tutors to work with our high school girls. This month our individual virtual volunteer program was held for our elementary and middle school programs.
Volunteers working with our girls in elementary school are particularly impactful. The personalized attention directly impacts reading advancement and helps girls grow their confidence and love of learning. Having additional adult support for our elementary youth is instrumental in the small group instruction needed to meet each child’s needs.
Our data shows that volunteers in the classroom improves student attendance. When students know the volunteers by name and get excited for their visits, attendance rises. Last week we had our first group of elementary volunteers complete a specially crafted training on working with elementary youth in a remote environment. Our volunteers were exposed to online resources that will be used in programs and trained on how to run small group center activities. They were each assigned to a program group and are getting to know the youth in the program through intentional community building activities before they will start with the curriculum.
Additionally, we have created a new type of volunteer program for one of our middle school partners to support a specific group of youth. Middle school is a transitional period and the first time that students are responsible for work in different classes given by different teachers. Remote schooling during Shelter-in-Place has made this challenge more difficult to overcome for some youth. Many students received an incomplete grade in their first quarter of classes due to incomplete work or excessive absences from online class sessions. To support these struggling students, the school is piloting a new program with the support of a Girls Inc. volunteer. Our adult volunteers will have a small group of youth that they will meet with weekly to set goals and priorities as well as celebrate successes. Having an adult accountability partner can really make a difference with personal responsibility and motivation. Particularly in these unprecedented times, we are appreciative to our volunteers who support the girls and help them to face the obstacles in front of them!