Each month, we’ll be introducing you to a new School on Wheels staff member so you can learn more about the people who make our programs run successfully! This month, we’ll highlight Samantha Breeling, our Volunteer Coordinator, as part of our #SharetheLoveIndy volunteer fundraising campaign.
Samantha is probably one of the most well-known School on Wheels staff members as she interacts with all of our volunteers – but there are definitely a few fun facts that you don’t know about her and the amount of time she spends behind-the-scenes working with all of our tutors! Read on to learn more about our fearless Volunteer Coordinator.
What is your role at School on Wheels?
As Volunteer Coordinator, I am in charge of recruiting, screening, scheduling, training and managing our volunteers.
What did you do before you came here?
I was in college. I went to school at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and obtained my undergraduate degree in sociology with a minor in psychology.
Why did you decide to join the School on Wheels team?
I was interviewing for numerous AmeriCorps VISTA positions, all focusing on working with underserved youth. I spoke to a lot of organizations but really connected with the mission and the people who I spoke with at School on Wheels. I also grew up about 2 hours northwest of Indy in Illinois and wanted to stay close to my family. It was a no-brainer!
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
Aside from our amazing staff, I get to interact and work with over 400 people in our community each year who are passionate about our kids. Our volunteers are selfless, caring, and truly amazing people. It is easy to get bogged down with the news always reporting on the horrible happenings all over the world. Working with our volunteers each day really restores my faith in humanity, and that’s important!
What’s one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?
I love sleeping! I can sleep 12 straight hours, wake up for an hour and then take a two hour nap. Sleep truly makes me a better person.
Can you explain the application and vetting process that volunteers experience before being able to tutor?
A person who is interested in becoming a volunteer first must fill out our online tutor application. I receive the application via email and set up a short phone interview. During the interview, I learn a little bit about the volunteer, where they have volunteered previously and why they are interested in helping our organization. We also talk about which tutoring location, day and time works best for them and I tentatively put them on the tutoring schedule. We do two reference checks – a personal and a professional, and we also do a criminal background check. Once everything comes back clear, every new tutor must attend our two and a half hour tutor training. After they have been trained, they are cleared to start tutoring on their weekly schedule!
In all, it takes about four hours to interview, vet and train every new volunteer. Each school year, we train, on average, about 200 new volunteers! It takes quite a bit of time but the thorough process makes sure we are bringing amazing, well-prepared tutors to work with our students – so it’s worth it.
Did you love learning more about Samantha? Check out other Meet the Staff blog posts. Want to get more involved and help the kids we serve? Apply to volunteer or learn more about our #SharetheLoveIndy campaign.