The Community Partnership in Rolla Understands the Importance of Engaging Young Volunteers
April 1, 2015
From high school students working to help child care providers offer higher quality care, to university students recycling in a big way, young volunteers impact the lives of others and have fun doing it.
These Volunteers Are Game!
After 3:00 p.m. on a school day, Rolla High School classmates Ashwini Krisnamurthy and Jesse Liu are busy building math games and laminating flash cards. Missouri University of Science and Technology student Ameer Basha drops by with some friends to whip up a big batch of play dough between classes. Earlier in the week, two students worked on a bulletin board while another student helped to prepare a meal.
“Many child care providers in our program don’t have the funds to purchase educational materials and literacy tools,” said Kathy Taber, director of TCP’s Early Care and Education program. “They’re usually putting the money into paying staff or purchasing food, and they don’t have time to do things like making play dough or creating hands-on science activities. Our student volunteers fill a great need by doing these things for us, and they realize that they are directly helping children get ready for kindergarten!”
Taber said that local students get excited about their role in the ECE program, and look forward to working on special projects. She also pointed out that while these individuals are helping others learn, they, too, are learning.
“We can tell by their questions and comments that these young people are picking up valuable skills that they can also use in their own lives. They know that what they are doing for us really matters, and they know we appreciate their efforts.”
What it Means to Go Green
The Community Partnership’s (TCP) Resale Shop in Rolla is an important arm of this non-profit organization. With the slogan “Local Donations Meeting Local Needs,” the proceeds from the store, located on N. Bishop Avenue, go right back in to TCP’s important programs. Those programs include:
- Capable Kids and Families®: a program for families with children with disabilities
- Young Parents Program: a program that serves pregnant and parenting youth, ages 14-21
- Independent Living Program, serving youth aging out of the foster care system
- Early Care and Education
- Linking Hearts Adoption Fair: an annual event that connects potential adoptive families with adoptable children in the state
“We receive a large amount of clothing donations during the year,” explained Maria Grant, manager and director of the Partnership Resale Shop. “We regularly have to go through the donations and put aside articles of clothing that we can’t sell or are in bad condition. We bag those items up, and then we schedule volunteer groups to come in and do a bale event with us.”
Volunteers from the local university include groups from the Rolla Catholic Newman Center, Missouri S&T Residence Hall Association, fraternities, sororities and service organizations.
According to Grant, The Community Partnership and the Rolla Area Sheltered Workshop partnered to purchase a baler together with a grant several years ago.
“We have student volunteer bale teams that help us get the bags of clothing loaded on to our big truck, and then we transport those bags to the Sheltered Workshop. These items are then on the road to being re-purposed and used by others instead of going in to a landfill. In the past couple of years, we’ve kept well over 180,000 pounds out of landfills.
Our student volunteers are excited to be a part of this “ramped-up” recycling effort. The volunteers get busy bailing the bags of salvage clothing. The bales, which weigh about 1,100 pounds each, are stored at a local trucking company until a bale broker comes to pick it up. Money that we make from our baling goes back in to our programming, too. We just couldn’t do this without our student volunteers. They make it happen.”
Sisters at Play
Sorority sisters from the Epsilon Alpha Chapter of Kappa Delta at Missouri S&T regularly clean the Capable Kids and Families® safe and accessible playroom, located at TCP’s headquarters.
“Children with disabilities often have compromised immune systems, so it’s very important to keep our playroom clean and disinfected,” explained Jean Darnell, TCP’s executive director, and founder of the Capable Kids and Families program. “The women of KD make it a lot easier for us to do that for our participants.”
Darnell believes that young people make a community stronger when they volunteer.
“Local university students also volunteered over 1,000 hours at last year’s Linking Hearts Adoption Fair. They are an amazing resource. Their enthusiasm and dedication make our staff want to work harder and dream bigger. It just proves that no matter how old you are, you are an important part of your community.”
You can find The Community Partnership’s website at www.thecommunitypartnership.org.
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