Working with nonprofits and community organizations provides a window of opportunity for students to connect to the community in which they live, work and study.
For nonprofits, as Ginny Brydges, executive director of Every Child’s Place says, not only do they have the opportunity of willing and enthusiastic hands, volunteers also change the atmosphere of the organization.
“There’s a certain kind of magic with student volunteers,” Brydges said.
Every Child’s Place, an unaffiliated child care provider located on Gateway Technical College’s Kenosha Campus, plays host to students from a number of different program areas. Every Child’s Place is an ability-inclusive childcare facility that cares for children of all abilities and employs people of all abilities.
Children need to explore and play while learning all they can from an early age. What better opportunity than to bring in students who can test their own knowledge while providing something new, fun and exciting for the kids to do?
Students from the Nursing program have come in to work with children of all abilities, or to teach about healthy eating habits or hygiene. Physical Therapist Assistant students have done exercises and obstacle courses. Information Technology students have revitalized the computers children can use to play interactive and educational games. Early Childhood program students work on curriculum and in the classroom with kids ranging from 6 weeks to 6 years old.
“But,” Brydges says, “on-site volunteering is only one piece of the puzzle.” Fundraising and grant writing, as with any nonprofit, are huge parts of the behind-the-scenes work that needs to be done.
“With an event coming up like the Golf Outing Fundraiser on June 20,” Brydges says, “students have participated by gathering items for silent auction baskets or donating art pieces.” They work the event as volunteers and work to help promote the event by posting fliers around town.
Student clubs have participated in running smaller fund-raisers, bake sales, or other fund-raising activities as well.
Current Gateway students and recent alumni work at Every Child’s Place. One newly graduated student shared that she started at Every Child’s Place as part of her practicum for her degree in Early Childhood Education. When students engage with nonprofits in the course of their education, not only are they developing the skills they need to be successful in their careers, but they are developing their professional networks and, sometimes, finding employment.
What makes Every Child’s Place special, for me, is not the convenient location for students, or the fact that my kids love it there, but that the organization is open and welcoming to all people.
They love the magic that caring people bring, and I love the opportunity to share in that magic.
Madeline Carrera is the Impact Program coordinator for Gateway Technical College.