Goldey-Beacom College Wowzers’ Program

March 15, 2022

My name is Sulakshmi Vaid, and I am the CCMA AmeriCorps VISTA member running the GBC Wowzers’ Program in Wilmington, Delaware. The initial premise of my position was to recruit students from Goldey-Beacom College (affectionately known as “Goldey” to those of us here) to become volunteers at the Boys & Girls Club of Delaware, who would then run the Wowzers’ Program. Wowzers is a personalized online math program for grades K-8 that combines a standards-based curriculum and “real-world” applications to facilitate learning math for students of all ages and abilities. However, my project has become a general volunteer program for the students here at Goldey-Beacom College for the Boys & Girls Club.

Since I began my service here, the challenges of COVID and low student engagement were not lost on me. My project is also the foundation of a community service department, which has never before existed at Goldey. I had my work cut out for me. However, I laid the foundations for an engaging volunteer program amidst a supportive environment and lots of encouragement. I focused on procuring volunteers for two Boys & Girls Club sites, Linden Hill Elementary and the H. Fletcher Brown Club, during the first semester. The majority of the volunteer work that Goldey students took part in was Homework Help and participating in activities to aid the workers from being overwhelmed with the number of kids. There is a shortage of staff within the Boys & Girls Club, so having volunteers to play, teach, and help the children can help our students give back to the organization and the many children they interact with. A few volunteers accompanied me to the Brown Club site, which needed the aid, but it was not convenient for those students who needed transportation. Most students went to Linden Hill Elementary school site. However, our Goldey volunteers loved serving with the kids at both locations, not only to be involved in something and get off campus because COVID shut so many programs down, but also because they knew the children needed their help equally at both clubs. I know our students have been helping those children in ways they may not even realize; our students are role models, and they genuinely care for these children who are usually underprivileged and may not have a stable home life.

Last semester, I also helped implement and execute a Girls on the Run program as an assistant coach at Linden Hill Elementary. It was the first time Linden Hill Elementary Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs would be taking part in the Girls on the Run program, and it was challenging in the best ways. The Girls on the Run program is for 8- to 13-year-old girls that promote empowerment by teaching life skills through lessons and running. The Goldey-Beacom students involved with Girls on the Run loved it, as well as the kids from the site! Last semester totaled more than 25 volunteers overall.

This semester, we will be focusing solely on Linden Hill until the engagement is to the point of expansion to other Boys & Girls Club sites. Unfortunately, we will not be returning to the Brown Club until further notice and will only focus on the Linden Hill Elementary site. It breaks my heart as those kids are less privileged than the Linden Hill site. But I am hopeful that we will grow in our community service effort and one day return there. Linden Hill Elementary is also located conveniently across the street from Goldey. I have started implementing service-learning within the classroom, gaining seven new volunteers for the Boys & Girls Club. I worked with the professor to adjust the course curriculum and created an alternative to the regular coursework. I also met with staff and students who represent student clubs and organizations to promote volunteering and received a few more sign-ups and good feedback to increase student engagement. Next semester, I hope to continue implementing service-learning in more classes and work with student clubs and organizations to grow our number of volunteers and engagement with the community! I am hopeful that we can help these children and the community as I help build this partnership.

I honestly don’t know what I thought this position was going to be when I first started, I just knew it would give me stability and a service position where I had related experience. Now that I’m here, my life has changed so much, and so have I. I love this work; I love seeing my students and the children at the club grow. I know as we get more volunteers, the kids, my students, and this project are going to flourish!

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