St. Stephen's Youth Programs

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Category Archives: B-READY 2012-2013

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A Letter from Hannah, Middle School Supervisor for 4 Years…

Hannah (standing center) and the YLC on their overnight to Woods Hole in Spring 2011.

Hannah (standing center) and the YLC on their overnight to Woods Hole in Spring 2011.

Dear Friends,

Four years ago, upon my college graduation I entered the real world scared out of my mind, wishing I could be a senior forever. After working the summer for Eastern Nazarene College, I had a distraction and didn’t, for the moment, have to worry about finding a “real” job. Although as a Type A personality the worry started to seep in. After a few weeks of job searching/interviewing, and many phone calls home to my mom, I had decided to move back to New York to pursue a career there and be close to my family. One afternoon while packing, I received a call from St. Stephen’s asking if I could come in for an interview. As a “faithy” kind of person I had a feeling that I should go, so I obliged my inner voice. I looked up directions, went to the interview, went home, called my mom, called my future husband, prayed and waited. I said to myself, “if I hear by tomorrow, I will take it.”

It has been my most sincere pleasure over the last four years to serve the St. Stephen’s community. Honestly, I didn’t think I would ever want to leave this place. I felt as though I had found my niche and as demanding as this work was, I was willing to put the program first–always.

Since becoming a mom to the most beautiful baby girl last May, I have realized that my niche has changed and I have found a new and great adventure to embark upon. That said, this will be my last year at St. Stephen’s. I will finish my time here by working for B-SAFE as a lead counselor and then I am to move on to this new chapter in my life–motherhood.

I would like to extend my deepest thanks to all the staff that I have worked with over the last four years, for giving me the support, encouragement and laughter I needed to get through each day. St. Stephen’s will always be a part of me as I hope I will always remain a part of it.

I will leave you with the words of Dr. Seuss, who I have been reading quite a bit of these days.

“So be sure when you step,
step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed!)

KID YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!
So…
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Alenn O’Shea
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.
So… get on your way!

Off to a new adventure, grateful for the past!
Posted by Hannah Mohnkern, YLC Middle School Supervisor
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Looking Back on Our Year with Generations Inc.

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Generations Inc. has a potluck with the volunteers!

The 2012-2013 program year of Generations Incorporated is coming to a close! B-READY students have been reading one-on-one, twice a week with older adult AARP Experience Corps Volunteer Members. This week, we’re celebrating a year of many successes.

This year, Generations Incorporated now works with students at St. Augustine and St. Martin– students no longer have to commute to St. Stephen’s for reading! Many volunteers at St. Augustine and St. Martin are congregants there, and all together, at both locations, 42 volunteers have served 118 students.
We’ve seen strong relationships between older adults and students built and also continued from last year. These reading coach pairs have enabled students to improve their reading abilities, as evidenced by students’ improved assessment scores. Over the course of the year, we’ve seen some students come to love reading, thanks to caring relationships and fun stories.
Our end-of-year has included festivities and giving books to students to reward their hard work and ensure that they continue reading throughout the summer.
Generations Incorporated Volunteers also celebrated amongst themselves with a potluck to share dishes and swap stories.
Posted by Janet Newton and Elizabeth Muller, Program Associates at Generations Inc.

My Best Friend…

This past school-year, St. Stephen’s and St. A&M had over 100 volunteers come lend a helping hand. They help prepare snack, tutor kids one-on-one, and build friendships. This year, we had a 16 Boston College students volunteer at St. Stephen’s in the South End for the entire year through the PULSE program. We were sad to see them go when their school year came to an end. Fortunately, the bonds they formed with the kids are still strong.

Jacklyn, one of our (now former) BC PULSErs, shared a book that Dayanaliz, one of our St. Stephen’s LEARN participants, wrote about her friendship with Jacklyn. During the PULSErs’ last week at St. Stephen’s, Dayanaliz read her book to Jacklyn, and Jacklyn was kind enough to share it with us:

My Best Friend

From Dayanaliz, To Jacklyn
Once there was a girl called Jacklyn. She had a friend called Dayanaliz. Dayanaliz was little but instead of calling Jacklyn Jacklyn she called her aunty Jacklyn because she looked like her aunt [she did always call me this!] And one day Jacklyn didnt come. Dayanaliz was sad. Jacklyn came back on Tuesday. Dayanaliz was still sad. When Jacklyn said whats wrong she smiled. Dayanliz said I missed you. [True story! This happened after Christmas break.] Now it has passed days and now Dayanaliz has always remembered that Jacklyn will not be gone for a long time and she kept it in her head for a long time. The end.

Jacklyn added in her email to us:
Well that’s her story! She was so cute about reading it to me and let me keep the book. I hope she is doing well, as well as everyone else over at St. Stephen’s! Send everyone my best wishes.

Jacklyn also scanned Dayanaliz’s book! Check it out!

How do I Measure Success?

PicturesMiles and smiles! It’s been a great run! I have loved every last trying, crying, and even the challenging minutes! It’s been all love! And now that it’s all said and done, I can say, I did it for the smiles. Seeing others happy, giving kids a chance every day to get it right, make themselves better, try harder, push themselves, and keep smiling.

Have a great summer! Keep smiling!
Best, Camille

Posted by Camille Spivey, Site Director at St. A&M from 2011-2013

Collaboration & Basketball

IMG_9983Over the last few weeks, I have been collaborating with Karen González, Director of Community Partnerships and Extended Learning at the Hurley K-8 School, just a few blocks down from St. Stephen’s. Along with her staff and the support of the Huntington Avenue YMCA/BPS Initiative, St. Stephen’s YLC was invited to take part in an inter-community basketball game versus the Hurley Hawks yesterday afternoon. This game was a wonderful success in bridging the community, entertaining students, and welcoming parents. 
 
YLC-made jerseys for the game!

YLC-made jerseys for the game!

The most exciting part of the event was not only the one basket difference in the final score but that St. Stephen’s was able to play with and against some Hurley Hawks players who currently are part of the YLC, promoting teamwork, healthy competition and the shared support of youth in the community. Additionally, St. Stephen’s players, using stenciling skills learned over the last few weeks in Art class, created some hip spray-painted t-shirt jerseys, which were worn at the game.

 
At the end of the event, all the students gathered for pictures, refreshments and fellowship–the start of a wonderful new collaboration.
 
Thank you to Karen, Ms. Colon, Coach Allison, the Hurley Hawks, parents, the YLC and all event staff that made yesterday’s game a success!
Posted Hannah Mohnkern, YLC Middle School Supervisor

A Rainbow of Youth Work!

Generations Incorporated reading coaches Eva and Robert join St. Stephen's Youth Programs staff Liz and Denni (left to right).

Generations Incorporated reading coaches, Eva and Robert, join St. Stephen’s Youth Programs staff Liz and Denni (left to right).

Volunteer Spotlight: Amber Dickerson from Wellesley College

“Non ministrari sed ministrare.”  “Not to be ministered unto but to minister,” is the Wellesley College mission that is inherently present in the student organization, Stronger Communities, Stronger Schools.  Over the last three years, SCSS has become an integral part of the St. Stephen’s Youth Programs/Blackstone Elementary School Partnership, growing from an organization with one member to a current membership of about 40 women.  These women volunteer in classrooms at the Blackstone and serve as teacher’s aids in the afternoon. Then at 3:00 PM, they travel with the Blackstone B-READY group to St. Stephen’s where they serve as one on-one-homework tutors.  The following is an interview with SCSS sophomore Amber Dickerson about her years volunteering with the partnership.

Why is the work with SCSS and the St. Stephen’s Blackstone Partnership important to you?

“It’s important for so many reasons.  I know how it is to grow up and feel that you don’t have much academic support from teachers.  Not because teachers don’t want to, but because they have too many students to give one-on-one attention.  I like to be there to boost confidence and be their personal support, not just to tutor.  I want to show them, as cliche as it sounds, that anything is possible.”

How have you seen SCSS grow?

“Well, numbers have grown exponentially and I think it’s from word of mouth.  I tell everyone in my community what I do here and why I do it.  I like to think that’s why more and more people volunteer.  It’s a good thing…it is a productive way to de-stress from campus and academic life.”

What has been a defining moment for you?  

“At the Blackstone I work in a multiple disabilities class and there is a student who doesn’t make eye contact with anyone.  My second week volunteering she looked at me and made eye contact.  The teacher said, ‘Do you know what that means?  She NEVER looks at anyone!  She is remembering you.’  I was so happy and I went home and told my mom who also works with kids with multiple disabilities and she was telling me that it was a really big deal. At St. Stephen’s, I came back after a long break and Tyler welcomed all SCSS volunteers back at St. Stephen’s. He asked if all the kids remembered me and they all shouted and waved.  It was so great because it was also a lot of kids that I don’t regularly work with.  It made me feel part of the community.”

As the 2012-2013 school year comes to a close and all the Wellesley College volunteers move on to summer destinations (some of them are working with B-SAFE!), everyone at SSYP will miss them!  The academic and social support they give to our young people is tremendous and it shows in a number of ways—from the number of tutoring session every week, to the volunteers who come even after finals, to the warm welcomes they receive from everyone after a long break.  We are excited to have SCSS back in September!

Posted by Meg McDermott, School and Community Partnership Organizer