The 2022/2023 school year is underway! Thanks to your support, Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo (CIS) staff are in the schools, creating safe and welcoming environments for our kids to succeed and thrive. They’ve been busy reengaging with students and their families, and connecting students with resources to ensure that their basic physical, social, emotional, and educational needs are met. Depending on the student, support might help address basic needs (like clothing and hygiene items), academic assistance, physical health, social emotional health, after-school support, and college and career exploration.
Senior Director of Site Services Dr. Tamiko Garrett says, “We are so happy to be back in the schools—in person—and without any special COVID protocols in place at the start of this year.” (KPS follows the Kalamazoo County Health Department COVID-19 guidance for isolation and quarantine.) “More of our volunteers and interns are able to join with us this year to help meet student needs. It’s a great feeling to know we are building up our volunteer and intern pool and that our kids, their teachers, and school staff can literally see the caring adults from the Kalamazoo community stepping back into their schools.”
Volunteer Services Coordinator Nicky Aiello agrees. “In Kalamazoo, we back up what we say with action. We say we are a community that values education and supports our schools. This is evident by the volunteers, interns, and partners who work with us to put that belief into action. Surrounding our kids with caring adults is a great way to show them that the community truly values education.”
Studies back this up and find that community volunteers can have a positive impact on school climate and college-going culture. When adult volunteers are present, students see that adults take school and education seriously and that they respect learning. This, in turn, promotes positive attitudes within children toward school and learning.
That said, however, researchers have found that in order for volunteers to be part of the solution to helping address barriers to learning, there must be a process for recruiting, training, nurturing, and using volunteers effectively. This is where CIS comes in. “We take these steps to connect students with just the right volunteers,” says Aiello. “The difference our volunteers make in the lives of children is invaluable. They have a positive, long-term impact and this never goes unnoticed.
If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering with CIS at one of our 22 sites this school year, please visit the CIS website and click on “volunteer portal” located in the upper right corner.