Thinking of Volunteering? The Kids Need You More Than Ever

I’m sure we all look back on our school days with fondness, whether we were the class clown or the brown noser (present!). But now, we all cringe when we hear how the students of today are entering the upcoming school year.

My 9-year-old niece has two days of in-person instruction, two days of self-led/at home instruction, and one day (all day) on Zoom with her teacher. It’s evident that districts and teachers across the state are working as hard as possible to make this “new normal” as normal as possible while also keeping everyone as safe as possible, but no one can doubt the impact that all of this will have on our children.

I don’t think there has ever been a more appropriate time to use the old African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.”

To that end, Serve Albany has launched a week-long volunteer recruitment drive, which could not come at a more opportune moment. The goal is to point potential volunteers in the right direction to an effort to deepen the pool of mentors and tutors from which local organizations can draw. These organizations traditionally help the youth navigate the difficulties of life – and in this case, learning.

According to the Serve Albany Facebook page, the group aims to make it easy for interested Albanians to find a place to get involved, to volunteer, and to make a difference in their city.

The drive was announced today at Pine Hills Elementary School in Albany, with comments from Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy, Albany City Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Albany City School District Superintendent Kaweeda G. Adams, and Christ Church Albany’s Lead Pastor Jonathan Hentrich.

Pastor Hentrich said that this is the perfect activity for those who are looking to do something more significant than binging on Netflix – this was a tongue-in-cheek comment, of course. He also described how having the presence of a mentor or tutor in a child’s life, at the right time, can make all the difference.

For this entire week, Serve Albany will hold a digital recruitment drive to attract folks who want to volunteer at any of the following twelve nonprofits: the Boys and Girls Club of Albany, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Southend Children’s Cafe, The Wizard’s Wardrobe, Mission Accomplished, RISSE, USCRI, Capital Region Sponsor A Scholar, Tru Heart, Albany Police Athletic League, Girls on the Run, and Literacy Volunteers of Rensselaer County. But you need only visit www.servealbany.org to find out more information, and learn where to sign up.

“The only way we’re going to be able to get through this, is by working together,” said McCoy. “We need to continue to reimagine…and be a mentor, be a tutor, be a friend.”

“We couldn’t do this without the many volunteers who engage students beyond the classroom,” said Adams. “(Volunteers) help make connections between what happens in the classroom to what happens in the real world.”

While reflecting on everything we’re all going through right now, Mayor Sheehan said, “The one group of people we can’t forget is our kids. We need to demonstrate how much they matter, and turn the concern we have into something positive.” She adds, “We can’t do it alone. We need to ensure that we’re coming together as a community.”

Again, if you’re looking to volunteer, head to www.servealbany.org.

Serve Albany is an initiative of Christ’s Church Albany. Founded in 2013, the church believes that serving others and giving back to the community is the best way to live (Acts 20:35), which is why they started Serve Albany.

Sponsors for this partnership include Times Union, Rosenblum Companies, Albany.com, and Overit.

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