Jul 25

Volunteers of the Month – July 2023

Cameron Green

Cameron has been an outstanding volunteer since she first started at the Skid Row Learning Center. On her first day, she took on perhaps the greatest challenge: Manning the glitter station in a sea of 65 elementary students! I knew then she would be an amazing asset to our volunteer team; she brings so much light to the SRLC and works so hard to support the students and staff. Cameron always comes in with an upbeat energy and willingness to dive into any project. It is such a joy to have her at the SRLC and the students absolutely love her. 

– Leigh Beaulieu, Regional Manager

I really wanted to get involved in the Los Angeles community and have always been interested in working with kids. When I saw School on Wheels through USC’s JEP program, I called my mom and got really excited about the opportunity!

While it’s really cool to tutor the kids and watch them grow, it has been really rewarding to learn from them — for example, they’ve been teaching me some Spanish — and form special connections with them. On the last day of the school year, everyone was saying goodbye at the Learning Center. Even though there was sadness, I was also so happy when students came up to me to give me a hug. It felt so good to know that I had made an impression on them and that they appreciated me. 

Volunteering at School on Wheels has been one of the best parts of my college experience. It has been so fun and rewarding and I have learned so much. Volunteering is something I always look forward to each week. 

Esther Weese

Esther is wholeheartedly committed to her sessions with her student. She meets with her student twice a week and is always thinking of new ways to keep her student engaged and having fun. It is clear what a beautiful bond the two of them have made.

– Eden Ettenger, Associate Volunteer Engagement Coordinator

When I was young, money was tight. I remember that getting a meal at McDonald’s was something my family saved for special occasions. All throughout my childhood though, my parents emphasized the value of education. I have experienced first-hand how learning and education can open up doors, not only for my own gratification (like learning new topics and hobbies that I enjoy), but also for a wide range of career paths; for me, as a health care attorney. Now that I am semi-retired, I decided to volunteer as a School on Wheels tutor because I want to help children become excited about learning, which will hopefully open up doors to not only help them survive but thrive in the future. 

Getting to develop a relationship with the student I’m tutoring warms my heart, especially when she greets me at the beginning of a session with a smile. My student and I spent weeks learning the alphabet and the basics of reading. During that time, she asked me to read books to her and was reluctant to try sounding out words by herself. One day, however, she stopped me from reading and said she wanted to try herself…and proceeded to read her very first sentence! That was such an exciting moment for both of us.

Being a tutor is an investment that requires time, effort and patience, and while there can be setbacks at times, the net return on investment is well worth it. If this is something that sounds interesting to you, I encourage you to try it for yourself.

Vanessa Fishman

Vanessa was one of the first tutors who reached out to me when I started with School on Wheels and made me feel so welcomed!

– Susan Shiells, Associate Volunteer Engagement Coordinator

I am a former teacher. After retiring and raising my own 4 children, I started searching for an opportunity to tutor in the neighborhood that I grew up in. Comunidad Cesar Chavez is 2 blocks from the elementary school I attended as a child. 

It is always inspiring to work with young students and witness their resilience and dedication while pursuing their education. My student Tyrce once arrived with his mom a little late for our session. He was all dressed up and I asked, “Tyrce, how is it that you always look so handsome?” His mom smiled and Tyrce answered as if it was obvious. “Of course,” he said, “it’s because I’m kind!” His mom smiled proudly and I told him he was right…it is because he is kind. It was clear to me that he truly understood what was really important.

If you are considering volunteering as a tutor, prepare yourself to learn so much more from your student and their families than you could ever possibly teach them.