This week is National Volunteer Appreciation week. Every organization around the country is singing the praises of their volunteers, and here at School on Wheels, we are no different. Our volunteers are the heart and soul of our organization. They carry out our mission and make it possible for us to impact over 350 children experiencing homelessness in Indianapolis each year. Our volunteers come from all walks of life but they all have one thing in common – they are passionate about helping our kids. Check out five reasons why our volunteers really are the best!

1. They are constantly thinking about how they can further support our kids.

The other day I got an email from a tutor, Catherine, who had worked with a middle school girl the previous night at tutoring. The student was very interested in social studies and learning about major historical events, but she currently was not in a class at school that focused on social studies or history. At the end of the tutoring session, the student decided she wanted to learn more about The Holocaust. Catherine emailed me asking if we had any books on the Holocaust or any recommendations for websites. Catherine was doing her homework and really wanted to help her student to learn about what she was interested in!

2. They make our kids feels safe, confident and ready for school the next day.

A new student, Pamela, joined us this week for her first tutoring session. She worked with one of our long time tutors, Ed. After her first night, her mom shared how much of an impact Ed had on her.  Mom shared, “After working with you last evening, my child was so excited to go to school this morning. She got up early so she would arrive at school early. She was excited!” Mom said her daughter has never been excited about going to school.

Art by 2nd grade student, Allison

Art by 2nd grade student, Allison

3. They are creative when tutoring our kids.

At tutoring one evening, I witnessed our tutor Beau work his magic to help a student, Tommy, open up and learn! They started with reading a book about football, a mutual interest for both Beau and Tommy. Beau had Tommy reading out loud and prompted him with comprehension questions. Beau then got out the iPad and used Google Maps to find where each team was located geographically. Towards the end of the hour they were doing math problems to figure out statistics in relation to the team’s record and game scores. Beau learned what Tommy was interested in and used that to help improve his skills in multiple subject areas.

4. They help our kids with lessons beyond school.

A middle school student at one of our locations, Tori, was struggling with a bullying situation at school. One evening at tutoring, she worked with long-time tutor Kris. After tutoring, Tori pulled aside her Program Coordinator and thanked her for pairing her with Kris because he gave her some really helpful advice.

5. They help in every capacity of our organization.

We often focus on our volunteer tutors who work directly with our students, but there are many other people who give their time to our organization in a different capacity. We have weekly office volunteers and numerous groups who help with a wide range of tasks to keep our office running! Our office volunteers do everything from organize our uniforms, stuff backpacks with school supplies, help stuff envelopes for mailings, clean out the storage closest that holds our office supplies and so much more!

I feel lucky to work with the over 400 members of the Indianapolis community who come together and help ours kids each year. Each and every one of them make an impact on our kids.  A huge thank you to all of our volunteers!