Coe College - Center for Community Engagement


ICAP Spotlight: Boys and Girls Club

Sarah Sylve, ICAP
Class of 2017
Nursing Major at Coe College

What do you do at Boys and Girls Club?

“I’m kind of the Volunteer Coordinator there. So, if students at Coe want to volunteer over there, I’m the person that gets them to fill out their applications. I do some of the interview work for my supervisor; I figure out their hours. That’s one of my jobs.
Also, I created a homework club there. So, I run Homework Club three days a week for like an hour, and I got a whole bunch of tutors from Coe, so they come over. I run that on my own. A lot of what I’ve been doing lately is just getting that off the ground and running it. So, that’s basically what I’m up to lately. During the times that I’m not at Homework Club or doing Homework Club stuff, I kind of help around with whatever else they need. One of the projects that I’m starting to work on now is a volunteer orientation packet.”

How did you choose Boys and Girls Club?

“I had an idea that I’d work with youth in Cedar Rapids. So, I sat down with Kayla [Lyftogt Vande Haar] and Tess [Werner] about kind of area I’d fit in best, so we picked it out then.
At the Community Engagement Fair, I knew I was doing ICAP. So, I kind of wandered around for a little bit and saw what places I might fit into. It just seemed like really good fit for me.”

Were you expecting to take on this role when you started?

“I really wasn’t expecting so much, but I think it works out well. I stay really busy. I feel glad I have such an impact there and help out so much. When I was gone for break they were like, ‘We’re so glad you’re back and you can get back to doing all the cool stuff that you do.’ I take a lot more of a forefront over the other volunteers there. They see me a lot more as like a staff member than as a volunteer there.”

How many hours are you there each week?

“I do about nine to ten hours.”

What challenges have you faced during your work there?

“I think at least in the beginning, the biggest challenge was getting other volunteers and tutors. I just started getting tutors, which has been really nice. So, it was really difficult just getting the club set up, because it’s a lot to figure out. I knew when I started it up that I was going to be the only staff member/volunteer. So, I knew I was going to need to seek outside help. The most difficult part was finding that help.”

How did you find those tutors?

“Girelle [Montagner] is one of my tutors, and I know her from Crimson Service Crew. So, I just asked her if she was interested in doing it, and I kind of went around to all of my friends and told them it was super fun and to come help out. Then, they started spreading the word to their friends. So, it’s all word of mouth.”

What has been one of your most rewarding moments at Boys and Girls Club?

“It happened the week we came back from break. I have a little kindergartener who is in my homework club. He is my only kindergartener, and we’ve been working a lot on reading with him, because he has to learn how to read. I one-on-one tutor him during Homework Club, and then I rotate around the room.
We hadn’t had homework club yet, and it had been about a month, since I was back home for break. He came up to me and was like, ‘Miss Sarah, I really want Home Club.’ He grabbed me on the sides, and he just shook me, saying, ‘All I want is Homework Club.’
I just thought it was the cutest and most rewarding moment, because he was like begging to have Homework Club again. Just having this one kid like super excited to start Homework Club again was super rewarding.
Also, when he first started Homework Club, he was a really awful reader, which is to be expected. It was his first time picking up a book – that type of thing. After his first month of being in Homework Club, he went up two reading levels. So, I thought that was really exciting, because that was the only time he had one-on-one time to focus on reading.”

Do you think you will do ICAP again next year?

“I think I would like to, but I am going to be in nursing school next semester. So, I don’t know how that going to work out. Like, if I’ll have time for it, with clinicals and everything. But, I think even if I don’t do ICAP, I’ll still volunteer as I can.”

Why is volunteering [to this capacity] important?

“I feel like there are so many different reasons for why it’s important. I feel like it’s important for the community to see that young people are getting involved, and that they don’t have to rely on just themselves. They can reach out more. I think it’s important to get out there and show young people are involved, and we’re super excited about helping.
I think, also, it’s really important for the volunteers themselves. I feel like I’ve grown so much just from helping at Boys and Girls Club for just a semester. I feel like it helped me to be even more responsible than I already was. I’m in charge of children. That’s huge. I think it kind of helps in choosing a career path, too. This really reaffirmed for me that I really have a passion for working with kids in a learning setting.”

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