The new year is always a good time to set goals for the future, perhaps including becoming more involved in your own community. North Central residents who prefer to give of their time, rather than open their wallets, have many options to choose from as several local agencies seek volunteers.
Your Experience Counts
Most volunteers from Your Experience Counts are not professional educators, but they all bring life and work experiences, extensive classroom training and a passion for children and learning to their role supporting students and teachers. Liz Bebo may be the exception. The Beatitudes resident is both a former teacher and a nearly full-time community volunteer.
Bebo’s most recent volunteer position is serving as a YEC member in the fifth grade at Orangewood Elementary School in the Washington Elementary School District. She was one of nearly 100 YEC volunteers, most retired from careers in business, education and military, making a significant impact on student learning in 24 schools in 2014-15.
The volunteers are matched with teachers in local elementary schools in Osborn and Washington school districts. Volunteers support teachers in grades 3-6 in math, reading and other subjects.
At Orangewood, Bebo’s mentor-teacher assigned her individual students and small groups to work with them on vocabulary, comprehension, fluency and reading. “It is so satisfying,” Bebo says of her engagement with students. “To witness ‘aha’ moments, to have students ask you for help, and to know you made a difference for the teacher and students is so rewarding,” she added.
Your Experience Counts is a program offered through HandsOn Greater Phoenix. Volunteers receive extensive training in curriculum, instruction and classroom management before, and during, the school year. Several additional volunteers are needed for the next school year as Richard E. Miller School is being added from WESD.
To volunteer or for more information, contact Mike Beardslee at 602-973-2212, ext. 239, or visit http://yourexperiencecounts.org.
Big Brothers Big Sisters-Arizona
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona (BBBSAZ) provides children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported, one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better. BBBSAZ currently has 300 children across the Valley who are waiting upwards of two years for a mentor, which is why the organization is in dire need of volunteers. Most especially needed are adult male volunteers.
BBBSAZ offers a variety of volunteer opportunities that fit with even the busiest of schedules. This is due to the fact that mentors (“Bigs”) get to choose when, where, and what activities they do with their mentees (“Littles”). Bigs meet with their Littles for at least one year, 2-4 times a month, to hang out doing things they enjoy, such as hiking, playing video games, or reading books the library.
Alternatively, Bigs can meet their Littles during their lunch break at one of the agency’s designated partner elementary schools or sites. In this program, matches meet 2-4 times a month throughout the school year and do activities such as play board games, help with homework, or shoot hoops out on the playground.
Potential mentors must be 18 years or older, have lived in Arizona for at least three months, can pass a background test, and have reliable transportation, an Arizona drivers license, and proof of auto insurance. If you are interested in learning more about BBBSAZ’s programs and volunteer opportunities, visit www.bbbsaz.org/volunteer.
The next training session in North Central Phoenix is scheduled for Noon on Thursday, Feb. 11 at the BBBSAZ offices near 7th Street and Highland Avenue. To get scheduled to attend an upcoming Volunteer Information Session, contact Community Relations Coordinator Anne at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-799-0634.
Aid to Adoption of Special Kids (AASK)
AASK recently participated in a national campaign aimed at connecting more of the community’s youth in foster care with adult mentors. Youth in foster care frequently report that a mentor makes them feel like they matter to someone who is not getting paid to care.
“There is a powerful mentoring effect that a stable, caring adult can give to a youth in foster care,” said Russ Funk, director of Community Engagement. “Youth in foster care who have a mentor gain a sense of community and connectedness, increased self-esteem, and the confidence to develop new aspirations, skills and interests.”
Today in Arizona, more than 2,700 youth in foster care—one in 15—are growing up in a non-family setting that, with limited staff, provides only the basic needs to several youth who live there. “Many go through the teenage years with no one to turn to, no adult to confide in, and no one to teach them simple life skills and to be their friend no matter what. Frequently they ‘age out’ of the foster care system not ever having a single adult who was looking out for them,” Funk explained.
“These are the youth who could most benefit from having a mentor, someone who specifically cares about them and will be in their life for the long haul.”
AASK volunteer mentors are screened and must complete a background check with fingerprinting to insure the safety of the youth participating in its mentor program. AASK matches mentors to youth in foster care, and provides training and ongoing support. For more information, visit www.aask-az.org, or call 602-930-4900.
Girls for A Change
Girls For A Change (GFAC) currently is searching for volunteers to work with teen girls at local Title 1 schools around the Valley, including the Girls Leadership Academy on the campus of Florence Crittenton. It’s a great opportunity for women who like working with teens, have a passion for activism, and what to make a difference in the community.
Women volunteers, called Girl Action Team Coaches, will help the girls identify social issues in their community and then create a social change project to confront that issue. The program’s main focus is teaching girls that no matter their age, they can make a difference in their communities.
Volunteers will work in teams of two, and are asked to commit to about 10 hours a month. This can include e-mail and phone communications with both co-volunteers and youth team members.
A volunteer training session is set for 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6 at Florence Crittenton, 715 W. Mariposa St. Breakfast and lunch are provided. For more information or to register, call Kirsten Frey, GFAC program coordinator, at 602-288-4589 or e-mail her at email@example.com.