When I check students in at VU’s homework program, I am able to meet the parents as they drop their children off. Although I don’t speak Spanish (many of our volunteers do) and many of the parents do not speak English, it’s still easy to communicate with a smile and a personalized greeting that their children are welcome and will get the support the need. VU board members are well aware of the trust parents are placing in us, our program, and all our volunteers. And we honor them as well by every word, expression, and action we take with their children. But we also want to make them closer partners in supporting their children’s education! So on October 25, we held a Parents Night to give us all a chance to know one another better and share a meal.
Sixteen parents joined board members and volunteers to learn more about what we do, find out how to support their children’s learning at home, and ask questions. After a welcome by VU president Andrea Ciecierski and presentations by board member Julie Nyren and former teacher Susan Smith, Sarah Newman, division director of self-sufficiency and community partnerships for Connections for Hope (C4H), explained the many resources available to parents through C4H and the Neighborhood Resource Center. Parents loved learning more about how the homework program works and asked lots of questions. They were also happy to learn of the additional supports available to them–and were surprised to learn that VU is completely run by volunteers and no one is paid to for their time! Volunteer Ana McCollum provided excellent translation. And to help parents relax and enjoy the evening, volunteers entertained and fed 25 kids in a separate room.
Parents also learned about a special opportunity for their young children from Curt Rose from the Herndon Rotary Club. He introduced the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program, which is funded by the Herndon Rotary Club in conjunction with the Dolly Parton Foundation. Through the program, enrolled children–from birth to 5 years old–receive a book a month in the mail. Six parents filled out forms on the spot and several others took forms home for friends who have children under 5. VU looks forward to continuing working with Herndon Rotary to support the children and families we serve.