We started August off with our Refer a Friend Challenge, encouraging our volunteers and supporters to invite friends, family, and others to tutor with School on Wheels! It will run the entire month. We also began the month with another move for our staff members who were stationed in our Skid Row Learning Center. We were very honored to feature Zarin and Talal, our donors of the month, who were married in June. The couple asked their guests to donate to our organization in lieu of wedding gifts. To prepare our tutors for Back to School season, we are hosting an online webinar which will provide them with a guide on how to prepare their student for the year. In this newsletter, we also featured a new digital learning tool we’ve adapted, Khan Academy, for our students to use with their tutors. It is packed with a wide range of topics that is sure to fit any student’s needs.
For July, we focused on promoting summer learning as our students begun our 2016 summer program. We featured an appeal from our Executive Director, Catherine Meek, sharing the issue of summer learning loss with our supporters and how we plan to combat it. This month, we also heard an inspiring story from one of our senior tutors, Jacklin DieBold, who volunteers in our Santa Barbara region. School on Wheels also took on a new location for its Ventura office with the help of Seabees–members of the U.S. Naval Construction Forces–to ensure a smooth transition.
We experienced a great victory in June when we were awarded $75,000 by the Viewers to Volunteers Charity Champions League! With the support of our staff members, volunteers, and team captain Kevin Frazier of Entertainment Tonight we finished in third place. We were also very honored to be added to Mohawk Bend’s menu as the featured pie of the month. Supporters were able to order a “Pizza on Wheels” and earn $4 per pie for our organization. This month we also heard success stories from a few of our former students about attending college and their experience with School on Wheels. Lastly, we prepared our tutors for the summer months and held a preparation event to make sure they had everything necessary to encourage summer learning in our kids.
April was full of events! April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month which gave us a chance to celebrate with all of our volunteers. Each regional coordinator held an appreciation event for their tutors. We also awarded over 50 President’s Service Awards to volunteers who contributed 100+ hours of service. We were very appreciative to be included in President Obama’s Education and Sharing Day when Jamba Juice donated over 100 smoothies to a partnering shelter. We also appreciated joining Ben & Jerry’s during Free Cone Day where we were able to raise funds for our kids.
Over 200 students also had a blast when they met Santa at our Annual Holiday Party and enjoyed an amazing lunch on the beach. 30 School on Wheels students were the guests of honor at The LA Lakers Christmas day game. They walked out onto the court with the players and received holiday gifts. Students from our Skid Row Learning Center enjoyed time on the ice at the Pasadena skating rink thanks to our friend, Lexie Looker, and The Looker Foundation.
August is here and that means it’s back-to-school time. Were you excited to go back to school when you were young or did you want summer break to go on forever? Were you nervous going into a new grade? Did you worry about having the right clothes? I’ve been working with my student this summer and I see the stress he’s beginning to show as the new school year draws closer. Starting a new grade or a new school is tough for any kid, but for our students it can be painfully difficult — they may not have the new clothes their peers have, they may not have the school supplies they need, or any understanding from a new teacher. Most of them are starting from behind – typically two or three grades. What a painful situation for a kid to be in.
But school is one of the few stable, secure places in the lives of homeless children, a place where they can acquire the skills needed to escape poverty. And you, our wonderful donors and volunteers, help them understand how critical being in school and learning are. You can – and do – help close the gaps in their education. Whether you are tutoring every week or holding a backpack drive or donating funds, you are making a difference in the life of our most forgotten children. Where others don’t even acknowledge them, you reach out to help them. You validate them as the important persons they are; you encourage them to be the best students possible and most importantly, you instill hope in their young lives.
If you have any ideas and thoughts as to how we can help more of our students, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 641-1678. I would love to hear from you.
With deep appreciation,