In honor of National Volunteer Week, we sat down to chat with Anne, Katie, and Leeann from our Education staff team to hear about the impact they see volunteer tutors make every day!
What are some of your favorite moments or memories of working with tutors?
Anne: [Tom] is just outstanding.
Katie: He’s just a very lovely, gentle human being.
Leeann: Tom comes for three hours every Saturday. He comes a half hour early and does language study of Spanish on his own in the space, and then he just hangs out, and if the students cancel he’s totally fine. He’s there as a resource.
Anne: Yeah, he’s not just coming for the students, he’s coming for the staff as well. He’s kind of fantastic.
Leeann: He doesn’t ask for anything, but comes here for opportunities to learn and grow which is really fun to watch. He asks a lot of good questions, like if there’s a grammar concept he doesn’t know, he really likes to learn from us. So he hangs out, does his own thing. And he’s really lovely with the students and can work with anyone. And then… he brings us food. It is so nice!
Anne: There’s always Dennis, and the jokes.
Katie: A lot of folk songs as well.
Anne: After every session, everybody wants him as a teacher.
Katie: He also just jumps in and does anything that needs to be done. One morning there was a tutor orientation and we were totally slammed, and he was greeting the new volunteers and showing them down to the basement without anyone asking him to do that! He was just like, “People need to know where to go.”
Anne: Duronda just came back from her winter travels. The whole time she has been sending postcards and letters to her students. And I know Linda wrote and sent e-mails while she was gone. We laugh that we lose so many tutors during the winter, but they really do stay in contact, even if they don’t have the same student when they come back. They’re still connected even while they’re away on vacation or for longer periods. It’s pretty amazing!
And I just talked to Elias about his [former] Citizenship tutor, Matt. I wrote to Matt and asked if I could give Elias his phone number. He wrote back that Elias, his integrity and his will to learn is the reason that they continue to support the Center. I think all of the tutors are affected as well as the students.
Leeann: I think Citizenship brings a lot of engagement from tutors, too. I’m thinking about Wes. Back in March Sahrakef’s ceremony was in Davenport and he drove over for the ceremony.
Anne: Citizenship ceremonies—every time we go the tutor is there. That’s not uncommon.
What is the most inspiring thing about the volunteers you work with?
Anne: Honestly, on any given day, while we may be swamped because of all the people in here and everything that’s happening, the fact is the place runs because of them. We don’t have a job, we don’t have the opportunity to help or the opportunity to engage to this degree without the greased wheel of communication through tutors. What they’re offering to us is pretty impressive.
And when I tell people we have 350 volunteer tutors, I always hear this audible gasp. This is happening all the time, every day, in the middle of Cedar Rapids. It’s just amazing to me!
Katie: It’s really cool, too, at orientations when we ask people why they’re here, how many say, “Because my friend told me” or “because my mom comes here” and how that word of mouth spreads from person to person. I think that’s a testament to how the tutors are not only serving us here in the building. They also reach out into the broader community.
Anne: I really hope they know that every time we write a thank you, send an e-mail, put it on the board, put it on the wonderful birthday cards we love to do, I hope they understand how deeply that it’s meant. There’s no doubt about that.
Anne: We like ‘em.
Katie: We’ll keep ‘em.
Leeann: We like ‘em, we’ll keep ‘em. (laughs)
To all volunteer tutors, thank you for the time, knowledge, and skills you share with your study partners. Your commitment is noticed and your compassion is appreciated!