Monthly Archives: April 2011

For the Love of Cultivating Oneself

(Former FLOC student Unique Bexley gave a moving speech at “Beyond the Classroom 2011: For Love of Children’s Annual Fundraising Event” at the Academy for Educational Development on April 27. We are publishing a series of blog posts about the event.)

FLOC has managed to be a part of every phase of my life. This is a testament to the value and importance of the program. FLOC is For Love of children but it’s also for the love of cultivating oneself.

I can honestly say that FLOC is part of the reason why I have been so fortunate in my life. I started the program at 7 or 8 years old and every Saturday morning I would be there ready and eager to go through the reading curriculum and dreading the math portion. Saturday mornings were for tutoring, not for laying in.

Although my anxiety of math hasn’t changed, I learned the importance of pushing through the things and tasks that may seem difficult. Now, I can look back and recognize that it is empowering to steadily go through a reading and math curriculum and achieve the goals set in place.

Another strength of the tutoring program is the relationship you build with your tutor. I was fortunate enough to have Anna-Marie for a number of years during my time in the program. She volunteered her time to help me succeed and patiently worked with me as I struggled through parts of the curriculum.

The bond created between me, my family and Anna-Marie was strong enough that years later when I was out of the program and well into my first year of college my mom was able to recognize her on the street.

From that meeting, Anna has once again become a mentor in my life. Whenever I would come back home from school, we would meet to catch up. She even attended my graduation ceremony last May.

As I got older and attended middle school outside of DC, my participation in the tutoring program ended. However, my relationship with FLOC did not end there.

I attended the Outdoor Education Center, and to this day I can remember trekking through the woods toward the obstacle courses and sleeping in the cabins. I was maybe 14 at the time but even at that age I felt the impact that FLOC had on my life, so I decided to come back as a tutor.

I may have switched roles but I still felt those feelings of perseverance and dedication. Once again, Saturday mornings in my life became about tutoring. Except this time I was on the other side of the table.

When high school came around FLOC played a key role in my education. My family decided to move back to DC and FLOC recommended Cesar Chavez Public Charter High School for Public Policy. I attended Cesar Chavez and got the opportunity to have internships, fellowships and a thesis paper as part of my curriculum. I cultivated my public speaking skills and learned in a way that caused me and my classmates to challenge what we read out of textbooks.

I was also reminded about the value of excellent teachers. During high school I realized for the first time that teachers were actually real people who had lives outside of school. I also felt for the first time that I had so much to learn from them. If not for FLOC, I’m positive I wouldn’t have had the same experience at the school I wanted to attend.

Throughout high school I continued to cultivate the skills I first learned in the tutoring program. As a result, when it was time for me to attend college I was award the POSSE Leadership Scholarship to attend Grinnell College, in Grinnell, Iowa, and I received the Fred Taylor Scholarship from FLOC. This helped drastically, because I was not only paying academic expenses but I had to pay for essentially relocating to the state of Iowa for four years.

Although a completely different environment physically and academically, I was able to stay afloat, excel and try out things completely new to me.

A few highlights for me are my major in Anthropology. I finally found an academic discipline that would allow me to explore my interest in continuous learning. I was also able to achieve a lifelong dream of going to Europe. I studied abroad for a semester and went to London, Ireland, Bruges and Paris. There is nothing better than having a dream, not a goal, but a dream like that and finally having it come true.

In the meantime, I didn’t just forget about FLOC. Whenever I was available I would come back for College Night and talk to the other students in the program about school life and the process of applying to college. The FLOC staff supported me throughout my four years of college.

I can’t tell you how great it is to have somebody like Tim who started at FLOC sometime after I was introduced to the program and still have him here when I’m returning to the organization as a board member of the Fred Taylor Scholarship.

For Love of Children has become a catalyst for so many things in my life, some of which I’ve discussed like my passion for learning, my confidence in my abilities, and the valuable relationships I develop with people. I can even contribute FLOC to my first airplane ride. I was awarded a trip to Disney World when I was in elementary school because I got straight A’s.

FLOC has helped me in so many ways that it seems impossible to say thank you enough. But in the spirit of thank you, my family has continued the tradition. My nieces and nephews are in the program. And it is with confidence that I can say they will definitely learn the value of themselves as they continue. So I want to thank you for supporting FLOC and not only realizing the value of children but also the value of a program like FLOC and what it can come to mean in someone’s life.

What You Learn on Path to Success Matters Most

(FLOC Executive Director Tim Payne gave the opening remarks at “Beyond the Classroom 2011: For Love of Children’s Annual Fundraising Event” at the Academy for Educational Development on April 27. We are publishing a series of blog posts about the event.)

Good afternoon and welcome. I’m Tim Payne, and today I am the executive director of For Love of Children. But, when I was in the third grade, I was totally sure that I was going to be the starting shortstop of the Baltimore Orioles and practicing law in the off season.

Now, I’d like you to think back to where you were in the third grade. Where did you think you’d be today? Does the dream you had then match where you are now? Probably not, but does that matter?

As you think back, were there challenges you faced on the road to get to where you are today? How did they shape you as a leader? Did you receive support to help you succeed? I know I did. I believe that what you learned on your path to success is really what matters most.

Helping kids thrive and succeed is exactly what motivated Fred Taylor and the volunteers who formed FLOC in 1965. Their goal was to shut down the overrun orphanage – the warehouse that was Junior Village. Their actions were a turning point in the treatment of disadvantaged youth in our city – and even nationally – and those first volunteers remain an inspiration.

We’re honored that Fred, and Don Allen, two of our earliest volunteers, are able to join us today and are still deeply invested in the success of the children we serve.

In our 45-year history, our strategy has evolved to exclusively focus on education, but we’ve never abandoned our early vision of helping children thrive today, and making successful transitions to adulthood tomorrow.

Eleven years ago I walked into Room 221 of Garrison Elementary School and joined FLOC as a tutor from the George Washington University. On that day I met my first student – a third grader named Erica – and my dreams of fielding ground balls and filing briefs changed forever.

Over the last 11 years, I have watched Erica grow into the confident woman she is today. FLOC has been there for every step of her journey. When she struggled with even and odd numbers, I was there to teach her. As she dealt with the challenges of adolescence, in the chaos of Shaw Junior High, we were there to show her alternatives and support her self-esteem. Today, as she completes her second year of college, on the Dean’s List, we continue to encourage her on her road to a degree with the financial investment of FLOC’s Fred Taylor Scholarship Fund, and the continued support from Scholars program and staff. I am so exited to see what tomorrow brings for Erica.

She is just one of the 500 FLOC students who are achieving success today. Her story illustrates what For Love of Children is doing for every child we serve.

We start in the earliest stages of elementary school and stay with our students, regardless of where they live or what type of school they attend, going beyond the classroom to start today’s kids on the road to college and career success.

Our programs begin with one-on-one tutoring; where nearly 300 professionally trained volunteers are helping our kids build a strong foundation of reading, writing, math, and critical thinking skills.

Imagine walking into our building, to join a diverse group of college students, young professionals, and caring members of our community, working side-by-side in a common mission. You’d see and hear the laughter of tutors and students who have just mastered the complexity of borrowing across zeros or finding the least common denominator in fractions.

Our work extends to promoting healthy living and character building at the Outdoor Education Center in Harpers Ferry, West Va., where we use experiential learning, adventure programming and environmental education to help students develop the confidence they need to push past boundaries and go beyond what they think is possible.

It continues with the Scholars Program, where students from middle school through post-secondary participate in weekly workshops that impart academic, cultural, college and career readiness skills. Just last week, 15 of our juniors spent their spring break on a college tour, visiting North Carolina A&T, Georgia State, Ogelthorp, Clark, Atlanta, the University of Georgia, and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Our programs don’t stop when these students graduate high school. We invest in them financially with the Fred Taylor Scholarship fund, and programmatically with workshops during college breaks, continued guidance, and advisement from our incredible staff throughout the year. One of our favorite activities is our annual college night. When current postsecondary scholars come home during winter breaks, they come to FLOC to host a college fair for current high school students and their families. They share first hand about the challenges, the pitfalls, but also the accomplishments that our students are making.

Through all of our efforts, our kids are achieving success. For the fifth year in a row, all of our high school seniors have graduated on time, and 100 percent have been accepted into post-secondary institutions.

At FLOC, we empower success at every stage of a young person’s development, along the road from first grade through their postsecondary education.

We see success in the 9 year-old boy who came to FLOC after meeting a 4 year-old whom the 9 year-old realized was a better reader than he was. Today, that 9 year-old enthusiastically chooses “Batman” stories to read with his tutor every week. That is success.

We see success is the 13 year old who ventured outside the city for the first time last summer, intimidated by the quiet of the wilderness in West Virginia. Today, she is excited to share her memories of tending to an organic garden that produced the food she ate, and of the four days canoeing and camping along the Shenandoah River.

We see success in the 17 year old that ran into our office one day, holding a thick envelope, full of questions but excited to see the acceptance letter from Penn State.

And we see success in the 22 year old who is cramming for her last set of finals, polishing up her resume, and preparing for second round interviews for a job in the field of her dreams. Today, that scholar is prepared for the multi-cultural, multi-tasking, information-intensive world of today.

These moments, these accomplishments, they are fantastic.

FLOC’s programs are working.

But our work is far from done.

Every year, when we build our budget, and recruit out volunteers, we have to make difficult choices about how many students – and which students – we can accept, and which must be put on our waiting list.

How many of you saw the movie “Waiting for Superman,” the documentary about education reform? You know that heart-wrenching scene near the end where the kids and their parents are waiting to find out whether they can get into a better school?

I can tell you that there is nothing harder than looking a parent in the eye and telling them that we just don’t have a spot for their child…and that they just have to wait. We had to have 92 of those conversations last year alone.

But we can change that, today. Every volunteer tutor literally means one more child who is served. Every contribution of time and money means more opportunities for children and youth in our communities.

I’m pleased to announce that this June, we are doubling the size of our summer tutoring program, which means telling 50 more parents their children don’t have to wait any longer.

With your help, we can build the capacity to ensure that every student who comes to FLOC has a volunteer ready, has a spot in our program, and has the opportunity to succeed.

With you help, we can recruit, train and place the volunteers we need to eliminate our waitlist.

We can secure the resources to take more students to the Outdoor Education Center.

We can enable more students to step foot on a college campus.

We can put 73 more scholars students on the road to their postsecondary degree in the next five years.

No family should be turned away. No student should have to wait.

With your help, today, we can help more kids achieve their dreams of success and become tomorrow’s leaders.

And I invite you to join me in meeting some of FLOC’s amazing volunteers, partners, and leaders of tomorrow.

Why Volunteer?

(Elizabeth Metz is FLOC’s Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator.)

In celebration of National Volunteer Week, I wanted to explore why some of our current volunteers chose to get involved with FLOC. We ask all of our prospective volunteers to answer the question, “Why do you want to tutor with For Love of Children’s Neighborhood Tutoring Program?” Here are just a few of the answers we received:

“Children hold our future in their hands. It is important to help them learn at an early age to develop a love for education to carry throughout life.”

-Leoshay Lobley

“I enjoy mentoring children and want to help out kids in my new community here in DC. “

-Tyler Losey

“I’ve enjoyed tutoring the past two years. I like teaching new concepts and enjoy watching that ‘light bulb moment’ with the youth I’m tutoring.”

-Rose Overbey

So how about you? Why do you support For Love of Children? What keeps you motivated?

Whatever their reason for coming to FLOC two or more hours a week, we thank all of our 250+ volunteers for their commitment, their creativity, their patience, their humor, and most of all for their service. Volunteers make our programs possible! Thank you!

Scholars Students Tour Colleges, Famous Sites in Philly

For Love of Children Scholars students visited Philadelphia to take tours of Temple, Drexel and University of Pennsylvania college campuses!

Hanae, a post-secondary Scholars student, attends Temple and gave the tour of that campus.

The students also toured the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

Check out a video from their trip here!

Scholars Student Exemplifies Courage

Dileydis

(Kathleen St. Villier is the Scholars Program Manager.)

The Webster dictionary defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”

When starting the college application process, many of our senior students are fearful of the unknown. Their minds race, and they are confronted with many questions. What college or university will accept me? Will I be accepted? Can I afford it? Although not at all abnormal questions to face, for a first-generation college student, these questions can very well stall a student from successfully navigating the college process.

Dileydis is a FLOC scholar and first-generation college student, who is in her third year of postsecondary schooling. She successfully completed two years at Montgomery College and is in her first year at Florida International University.

For many students, transitioning from high school to postsecondary can be filled with road blocks and barriers. Dileydis’s road has not always been easy. Yet, when Dileydis stumbled, she picked herself back up, brushed off her knees, and continued on her journey. She is courageous. She describes her experience below:

“I began my journey at FLOC when I was 16. Now as I am about to turn 21 and reflect on where I’ve been and where I am going, I know that I would not be who I am and where I am without my family at FLOC.

I started at FLOC my junior year of high school. It was a difficult year for my family and I, which affected my grades, but with help and support from FLOC I was able to form a plan and move forward. I was able to prep for the SAT’s and apply to a few colleges. I did not get into my top choices and could not afford to go away for school either so I decided to attend my backup choice – Montgomery College-Takoma Park Campus.

Financially and emotionally, I found that Montgomery College was the best choice for me. I was able to graduate from Montgomery College with an Associate of Applied Science in Mental Health, debt free and emotionally more stable. Now I am currently attending Florida International University in Miami, Florida.

My journey has been long and hard but has so been worth it. Without the support and love from my family at FLOC I would not have been able to be where I am today.”

Join Us for FLOC’s First Scrabblepalooza!

Greetings, FLOC Volunteers!

Do you consider yourself a wordsmith? Lexicon master? Vocabulary connoisseur?

To show how much we appreciate the time you dedicate to making a difference in students’ lives, and to celebrate National Volunteer Week, we invite you to join us for fun and games at our first-ever Scrabble Tournament, Scrabblepalooza!

If Scrabble doesn’t capture your interest, other games will be provided, plus this is a great chance to spend time with your fellow volunteers. One of FLOC’s generous partners, Willkie Farr and Gallagher LLP, has offered to let us use their centrally-located offices for the event.

We encourage you to bring a guest – friends, family, anyone who loves wordplay!

Enjoy a friendly Scrabble competition and delicious pizza. Space is limited; please RSVP to Natalie at ntorentinos@floc.org. Be sure to let us know if you’re bringing a guest and if either of you plan to participate in the official Scrabble Tournament.

DATE: Wednesday, April 13

TIME: 6 to 8 pm

LOCATION: Willkie Farr and Gallagher LLP, 2nd floor, 1875 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006

Metro

The closest metro stations are Farragut West, which is on the orange and blue line, and Farragut North on the red line. From Farragut North, walk east on K Street towards 16th Street, and the offices will be on your left. From Farragut West, walk north on 17th Street, then turn right onto K Street and the offices will be on your left.

BUS

Many buses serve the area – please go to http://www.wmata.com for additional details.

FROM GW

If you’re walking from The George Washington University campus, take I Street or H Street to 20th Street and take a left, then turn right once you reach K Street. Walk east for one block and the offices will be on your left.

PARKING

Street parking is free after 6:30 p.m. Several garages are located nearby.