Students Helping Students

November 6, 2012 Volunteer Stories
After four years of collaboration between Holy Cross students and the LSS (now Ascentria Care Alliance) Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program (URM) and the Unaccompanied Alien Children Program (UAC), lives of both tutors and students continue to be impacted.

"For me, the connection is deeper than simply academics. Elder's (URM student) passion for success and willingness to overcome obstacles is contagious and helps motivate me to be my best." - Jake Medina, Holy Cross Tutor.

Four years ago, LSS, in collaboration with the Holy Cross Community Based Learning Students (CBL), developed an after-school homework help group for the teens at the LSS URM Program and the UAC Program. This group has developed into a structured program that meets three afternoons per week from 3:00 pm - 5:30 pm. Volunteers provide weekly tutoring sessions for our teens and also work with a CBL Scholar and LSS Case Managers to implement a formal curriculum that was developed by the Massachusetts Department of Social Services. This curriculum involves “PAYA TRAINING” – Preparing Adolescents for Young Adulthood.

Each of the five modules in this curriculum has an extensive workbook and the modules are entitled, "Money, Home & Food Management," "Personal Care, Health, Social Skills, and Safety," "Education, Job Seeking Skills, and Job Maintenance Skills," "Housing, Transportation, Community Resources, Understanding the Law, and Recreation," and "Young Parents Guide."

Most tutors have some knowledge of Spanish and this has been very helpful as many of the teens at LSS speak Spanish and varying degrees of English. Students who would prefer a one-on-one format or cannot attend the group session have been matched with volunteers that work individually with them at their foster homes to focus on particular areas. These areas include individual homework help, English language tutoring, Spanish grammar and writing tutoring, arts and music, etc.

Program Manager Indira Gumbe writes, "This program has been a wonderful addition to the many services that we provide for our youth in care. Thanks to all Holy Cross Volunteers and the efforts of the LSS Case Managers our youth are able to participate in such a wonderful tutoring afterschool program."

Read what the Holy Cross Volunteer Tutors have to say....

"My experience with LSS has been insightful and enriching. Elder and I share a mutually beneficial relationship-- I tutor him in whatever subject he needs and he supplements my Spanish studying. However, for me, the connection is deeper than simply academics. Elder's passion for success and willingness to overcome obstacles is contagious and helps motivate me to be my best. Moreover, through Elder, I am connected more personally to various issues, such as immigration reform. In the end, I can only hope that Elder can obtain as enriching an experience as I have. Thank you all so much for your work."
-Jake Medina, Volunteer for the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors program

"It is a lot of fun. We get partnered with one person, but it is truly like hanging out in one large group. The students get a chance to practice their English, and I get a chance to practice my Spanish. The kids have taught me many Spanish games, and, as they teach me, I give them the Spanish vocabulary to practice. And, most of the time, they give me some Spanish vocabulary also. Honestly, they are just great kids, and I love spending time with them. There is always someone to make you laugh. It is one time a week where we can all sit down and have a great time while we learn from each other.”
-Rachel Kent, Volunteer for the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors program