What drives one to volunteer their time?
In today’s fast paced world, there are plenty of people who “don’t have time” to assist others in need. Yet, there are some who do take the time to help out. Perhaps there is no more noble a method of volunteering than to help educate a child.
Bobbi Mercer runs the volunteer program at Montpelier Elementary, helping potential mentors work with students ranging from kindergarten to second grade. More than thirteen people volunteer to try and make an impact on these kids lives, building relationships along the way.
Different people volunteer for different reasons.
“I’ve always volunteered in my children’s classrooms.” First year volunteer Tashia Thompson admitted. “I just love kids.”
“It’s great to see that light bulb go off.” Pat Haskill, a volunteer in the program for 13 years, admitted.
Of course, for some, that light bulb doesn’t go off as quickly as it does for others. Some kids are born with learning disabilities. Few mentors are as aware of this as Mary Wierch. The six year veteran of the program was born with dyslexia, giving her unique insight to the needs of kids who have special needs.
“I can tell them that they will learn how to read.” Wierich claimed.
And she’s not the only one in the program who can understand children who have extra challenges with which to contend.
“I have a speech problem. Some kids can relate to that.” Stated Margo Katchmar, in her second year of volunteering.
That’s not to say that every child who goes through the program has a disability or a speech impediment. Nor does every student sent to Mercer’s classroom need a boost in their grades. Kids who are labeled as gifted also get sent her way for mentoring as well.
No matter what a child’s needs are, the volunteers have the same hopes and goals for each one.
“The most important thing for me is for them to realize they’re important.” Proclaimed Haskill.
Every student is important, which is why the school has plans to defend and/or evacuate them all in case of emergency. Like other schools, their procedure is known as A.L.I.C.E., or Alert Lockdown Inform Counter Evacuate, to best accomplish this. Just recently, many of the volunteers were educated on A.L.I.C.E. by Elementary Principal Lance Thorp.
What were their thoughts on the training?
“Interesting.” Everyone responded in unison.
“I hope we never have to use it.” Nancy McKelvey, in her first year of volunteering, confessed.
Several of the volunteers expressed a desire to add to their number. With a minimum commitment of merely one half hour, many of them believe it is not too much to ask of someone. The goal of these mentors is to help as many children as possible, and it is undeniable that more would be helped with more volunteers.
Though one doesn’t need to be a volunteer to help out. For a lucky few, they just have to be mommy and daddy.
“I encourage the parents to be more involved with their kids.” Said Katchmar.
And that is something for which every parent can make time.
T.J. Hug can be reached at