Husky Volunteer Team
I joined Husky Volunteer Team this past fall semester, and it’s an experience that I’ll never forget! I have always done volunteer work for my sorority, but I was looking for another way to get involved when my roommate told me about this program called Husky Volunteer Team. It runs for a full semester and you volunteer at the same organization once a week for a couple of hours. I thought I would give it a try because it seemed like a great way to get involved in the community without too much of a time commitment.
HVT Friday volunteers outside of JFK Elementary
I was placed at JFK Elementary School, in Jamaica Plain, on Fridays from 12-3pm with two other volunteers. Volunteers in HVT are always placed in groups of 3 or more, so it’s a great way to meet new people. It’s also nice to have people to travel to the sessions with.
The first day was only an orientation and tour of the school, but I knew right away that I would love volunteering at JFK. The kids were all so bubbly and cute! As we walked through the school, all of the kids were eager to meet us and talk to us, which really shows how much the volunteers mean to them. They all came up to us and asked us our names and begged us to stay. We promised we would be back the following week!
The next week we started the actual volunteering. We were each placed in a classroom to help out individual teachers with their students. My first day of volunteering was my most memorable, because I met a timid second grader named Damien. Most of the kids are very outgoing, but Damien was the complete opposite. He was very shy, but I knew he really wanted to talk to me. I spent some time with him, and he eventually opened up to me. (I couldn’t get him to stop talking by the end!) He gave me an invitation to his birthday party (pictured below) that I’ve kept to remind myself of that day. I love volunteering, but it truly means the most when you can see your affect on an individual, especially a child.
We volunteer in the same classes for the whole semester, so we really get to know the kids and see the difference we make. The kids expect and hope for us to come every week, and it shows how much we mean to them!
Any student can volunteer at JFK, even if you aren’t an education or early childhood education major. I’m a business major, and it was still a perfect fit for me. I love that the Husky Volunteer Team program gave me this opportunity, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to get involved!
-Denise Lucacio, Middler
D’Amore-McKim School of Business
Northeastern Meant Getting Involved!
“To me, being at Northeastern meant getting involved. As an incoming freshman, I branched out and did almost every community service event I could. I started with one-day events, like volunteering at walks around Boston and at the NU Service Day. Nevertheless, I still wanted to get more involved. I wanted to do something more worthwhile and something I could look back on and know I made a difference. So, I did!
I started at Peace through Play in fall 2011 because I thought, “Working with kids? Great, I love kids!” I have been with Peace through Play since the fall and I do not plan on quitting. The atmosphere of the people, the kids, and the schools will keep me coming back again and again. I worked with kindergarteners at local schools both semesters and I loved every second. Seeing the kids’ smiling faces and knowing that I was having an impact on their lives is an empowering feeling! Knowing that just a game, a friendly word, or a hug can brighten up a child’s day is absolutely amazing.
I saw that this was also true while volunteering at the Yawkey Boys and Girls Club with the Husky Volunteer Team in the spring of 2012. While here, I helped kids with art projects, played Frisbee, and so many other fun activities. I was able to work with children of all ages and interact with them in a casual setting. It was great to see some kids start to open up and talk to the volunteers about their friends, lives, and feelings. I had a great time volunteering here and I highly recommend it!
The last major volunteering experience I had was on my alternative spring break trip to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in March. I really feel that this experience changed my life. It’s one thing to volunteer around Boston, but to actually travel to a new place and meet new people who needed your help was so incredible. Knowing that I was helping the staff of a national park accomplish tasks was such a great feeling! I could see the impact I was having and I had so much fun volunteering here. I will tell people for a long, long time about this experience and the various other volunteering experiences I have had, and will continue to have, at Northeastern and beyond.” —-Valerie Thibault, Alternative Spring Break, Husky Volunteer Team and NU Service Day volunteer
Student of the Month: The Husky Volunteer Team Spring 2012
“Last fall, I enrolled at Northeastern University and I was eager to serve in the community. However, being from Seattle, I had no idea where to start. Back at home, I worked after school with my local elementary school and knew I loved helping children to learn. However, I had no idea how to get involved in this new city. Luckily, I heard about the Husky Volunteer Team organized by the Center for Community Service. I signed up right away, and was placed at the Yawkey Boys and Girls Club. Although I enjoyed helping the children there very much, I was not able to sign up for that location again in the spring of 2012 due to scheduling conflicts. Instead, I was placed at the John F Kennedy Elementary School in Jamaica Plain…
My time at the elementary school was wonderful and inspiring. Not only was the staff very kind and helpful, working with the children was very rewarding. A large percentage of the students at the elementary school speak Spanish as their first language and English only secondarily and sometimes not very well. When I heard about this, I mentioned that I was proficient in Spanish and was placed with a student in third grade that had just moved to America a few months ago. He did not speak very much English so the teacher thought he was at Kindergarten level and was just having me teach him basic English phrases and the like. However, as I began to speak with him, it became evident that he was very bright; he just did not understand what the teachers were telling him to do. However, once, I explained it, he was a hard worker and very insightful. After speaking to the teacher, he was moved up in all of the sections of school work and began to do better as he gained a better grasp of English. Returning to Elementary school every week became a great pleasure, as every time I returned he could do more and more without my help. It was so gratifying to watch this little boy truly understand the material, sometimes better than his classmates. The light in his eyes as he understood something after I translated for him was wonderful. In the short time I was at the school, he went from being considered at kindergarten level to being selected as student of the month of April.
I am incredibly proud of him and will miss working with him, but I have no doubts that he will continue to do well. I am very thankful to the Husky Volunteer program and the Center for Community Service for giving me the opportunity to be involved in such a rewarding experience.” —Felicia Johnston, Spring 2012 HVT Team Leader
A Sense of Childhood Bliss: The Husky Volunteer Team Spring 2012
“Every Friday afternoon for ten weeks during the 2012 spring semester a group of seven other Northeastern students and I met at Ruggles Station, hopped on the 44 Bus, and headed to spend three hours volunteering at the Yawkey Boys and Girls Club in Roxbury. During our time volunteering, we spent the hours coloring, shooting hoops, playing games of foosball, and chatting with a variety of kids. From six-year-olds to sixteen-year-olds, our group met a wide range of kids with immensely diverse backgrounds and life experiences.
For me, volunteering at the Yawkey Boys and Girls Club helped opened my eyes to the challenges facing educators in inner-city schools. The kids who attend the afterschool program at the Boys and Girls Club have an incredible amount of energy, spirit, and a flair for jokes and humor. However, many face difficult situations at home and often lack the tools needed to properly solve conflicts or complete homework assignments on time.
My experience volunteering with these kids was incredibly rewarding. While other members of our Husky Volunteer Team spent time in the gym or helping kids with homework in the education room, I chose to spend time in the art room. Helping kids color a picture or build a tree out of cardboard brought me back to my childhood days. I always looked forward to ending the week sharing a smile with an eight-year-old girl or laughing as a ten-year-old boy told an endearing joke.
Building relationships and retaining a sense of childhood bliss were some of the most rewarding aspects of my time as a volunteer. I enjoyed working with my fellow peers from Northeastern as well as meeting all the kids and staff at Yawkey. This program is something I definitely want to continue doing in the coming years!”- Victoria Rines, Husky Volunteer Team Volunteer Team Leader
HVT Summer I: “The Best Thing I Did For Those 7 Weeks”
”I decided to give my time and effort to something else besides my coursework for one short summer semester and it was the best thing I did for those seven weeks. It was volunteering on Tuesdays at JFK Elementary School and Yawkey Boys & Girls Club. I’ve always enjoyed being around kids, so I knew I wanted to do something that involves working with them. The Boys & Girls Club organization was familiar to me, but I wanted to learn more and become a volunteer. I was very impressed by the grand, caring, and fun-loving facility that Yawkey has.The area that was designated for homework and games was where I worked and it was so much fun.
Mahawa and a few first graders from JFK Elementary School!
First I would help any of the youth with their homework or check it over with them. After they finished their work, it was playtime. My afternoons with them were spent running around outside, playing board games, or games they made up themselves! I would see the same kids week after week and got to know them a little. It was nice to see first-hand how important the Boys & Girls Club facility is to Boston-area kids as a structured, safe, and fun place to go after school.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to join two different Husky Volunteer teams during the same summer semester. On Tuesday mornings, I helped students in a 1st grade class at John F. Kennedy Elementary School. The first day of volunteering there, we were given a little background information about the school and its students. We were told that it is a “turnaround” school and I wasn’t sure what that meant, but it didn’t sound good. The school has been designated as having significantly substandard academic performance over the past few years.The school was on a mission to drastically improve its status with strategic plans and extensive professional development of its staff. In addition to this, most of the students are from low-income households and may have family trouble at home.This is the reason why the school has a full-time social worker who regularly pulls students from class to counsel them, and that is normal at this school. Everything I was learning about the school at the start of my first day there, made me a little nervous and hesitant. However, these feelings disappeared as soon as I met the 1st graders I was going to be working with.
These students are just like any other kids I’ve ever met: playful, sweet, and curious. If there were serious troubles happening in their personal lives, I couldn’t tell because they were such normal, happy kids! They love to read, draw pictures, and play around. I loved coming in and seeing their smiling faces and being tackled with hugs when I walked into the classroom. I learned all of their names and truly enjoyed helping them with their classwork. I’m grateful to have had this volunteer experience and meet these incredible kids.”
-Mahawa Sam, 2012 Husky Volunteer Team Summer ISeeing Their Faces Light Up When I Entered the Room: Husky Volunteer Team Summer I
“My name is Stephanie Silveira and I am a Fifth year Psychology Major. I have participated in the Husky Volunteer Team several times during my experience at Northeastern. I recently volunteered at the John F Kennedy Elementary School in Jamaica Plain and also volunteered there Summer I 2011. This experience at JFK was particularly enriching due to many factors. Firstly, the staff at JFK is so great in being supportive and caring with so many volunteers in and out and really take the time to get to know each student and how this experience could contribute to future goals and careers. I was also able to work with two girls that I worked with last summer and seeing their faces light up when I entered the room the first day was so great because it showed that they remembered me from a year ago and maybe I had actually had a positive impact in such a short span of time.
The most difficult, but enriching part of my experience was a new venture in helping two students who had recently moved to the U.S. from Spanish speaking countries. I have not had to use my Spanish skills in years, so between their English and my Spanish it was a bit comical at times. I had the opportunity to assess their English and Math skills for the teacher for an upcoming meeting and he gave me feedback about how what I tested them on and found was spot on to what the phonetics teacher who had been working with them for months had found. I have been a tutor for a few years now, but nothing has been as fulfilling as working with a student who is just learning our language and trying to find ways to relate what they are learning and their likes/dislikes to the process of learning. I really enjoyed my experience at JFK and working with non-native speakers also opened my eyes to the hardships that so many children in the community around us are dealing with.”-Stephanie Silveira, Husky Volunteer Team Leader