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Couples share volunteer experience for Valentine’s Day

13 February 2018
Features General Uncategorized

They say the couple who volunteers together, stays together—alright, we are saying that! We love our volunteers not only on Valentine’s Day but every day. We are celebrating the couples who take the time out of their day to help others in the community.

Bruce and Jennifer, Lutheran Settlement House

How volunteering became date night

Bruce and Jennifer

Growing up, Jennifer and Bruce both had access to educational opportunities. Their education and their love for the English language brought them to Lutheran Settlement House. They volunteer as tutors for adult Learners who are studying to get their high school equivalency diplomas.

“We recognize that we have been very lucky in life,” Bruce said. “We know that many people do not have the same opportunities that we have had.”

The two went online to find an organization that would help them help others and found the Office of Adult Education (OAE).  Having been trained by OAE, Jennifer and Bruce then were assigned to tutor at LSH.

Bruce and Jennifer compare notes on their sessions to keep themselves in check with their lessons. They suggest other resources if one of them struggles during a lesson.

Jennifer and Bruce consider their tutoring nights as “date nights.” A few days a week, they can share a special experience together.

The two say they share the same goals in their lessons so they can help support each other in their tutoring goals.

“As with any commitment, there are times when you don’t feel like following through,” they said. “Knowing that we do this together side by side helps us to rally and ‘be there’ for our learners.”


Sonia and Jason, District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund

From volunteers to employees

Sonia and Jason

Sonia and Jason have been with District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund for a long time. Sonia and Jason became employees three years ago and the two commit themselves to literacy and helping others.

Jason currently works as a College and Career Readiness Instructor at the Training and Upgrading Fund. As a volunteer, he taught all subjects including software and technology. Sonia currently works as a Learning Coach with myPLACE℠ at the Training and Upgrading Fund.

“I was happy to move from volunteer to employee because I could become more involved.”

The two encourage everyone to volunteer through education because it is the “key to stability.”

“We should all be working to make sure that Philadelphia residents have the skills to be literate and informed members of the community.”

Sonia and Jason find comfort in each other through their devotion to literacy education.

“We can offer each other support when we run into disappointment, encouragement to keep moving forward, and congratulations for small successes.”

Sylvie and Scott, Tutors Trained by OAE

From traveling together to tutoring together

Overlooking the city from the castle

After traveling for 16 months, Sylvie and Scott decided it was time to make a difference in their community. Travel had put things into perspective for them.

“When we returned, we wanted to find a way to spend our time that felt meaningful. We had volunteered while traveling, but wanted to find an opportunity to give back in our own community,” said Sylvie.

The two took a volunteer training with OAE and from there they reviewed their possible placements.

Scott has a background in engineering and tutored a GED® math and science class, while Sylvie has a background in education and tutored early reading. The two got the chance to teach a class together and are now able to combine their skills and create a more confident teaching strategy.

“We support and help each other. We have different perspectives and teaching styles which helps us to present information in different ways. Our teaching and preparation styles complement each other well,” Sylvie explains.

They tutor up to eight students a week during their literacy class.

The two make it work by setting aside time to plan together and talk about new class ideas.

“We set goals for the class and get to work toward those goals together. We now find ourselves very interested in exploring the ideas of educational systems and educational philosophies—it’s fun to discuss and debate our ideas together,” she said.

Scott finds that volunteering has allowed him to stop putting people into ‘boxes’ and has learned to enjoy celebrating his students’ joy in their education.

“We humans come from all walks of life and we categorize and place things and ideas into various ‘boxes.’  I implore you to empty out all the boxes you have packed in your lifetime and take a good look at everything that is in front of you. Once I did this it was hard to see why I wouldn’t want to help people that are ‘like me.’  They may look, speak and act differently but once I stopped labeling I saw peers that needed, and more importantly wanted, help to better themselves.”


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