Monthly Archives: June 2013

High School Scholars Visit the OEC

Our FLOC Scholars program is visiting the Outdoor Education Center this week! So far the students have worked together as a team while building their group leadership skills. The high school students have not only enjoyed their time at the OEC, they have also visited Shepherdstown, West Virginia. During their time in Shepherdstown, they went on a tour of Shepherd University, visited WSHC radio station, participated in an interactive scavenger hunt, and received a minimalist running clinic. While at the radio station, 4 students were able to talk on-air about their personal experiences at the OEC and at FLOC in DC. Later they enjoyed lunch at the Rumsey Monument and then traveled to a local pottery studio. While at the studio, they viewed and discussed different aspects of art and focused on the non-traditional career path that our guest speaker has embraced. Students also had the opportunity to experiment with clay to make their own unique creation. Today, they are cleaning up our outdoor classroom at the OEC and canoeing down the Shenandoah River. Friday, they will have the privilege of visiting the Customs and Border Protection facility in Harpers Ferry, WV, where they will learn about another potential career path and the importance of leadership in the professional world. This week has been many students’ first time to West Virginia. We are extremely fortunate to have such a wonderful and mature group of high school students visiting with us this past week.

(Sarah Nowicki is an AmeriCorps Vista at FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center).

Jazmin’s Inspiring Speech

Post-secondary Scholar Jazmin

Post-secondary Scholar Jazmin

On Wednesday, June 12, FLOC celebrated its high school graduates and their families at the annual Fred Taylor Scholarship Dinner.  The following speech was written and delivered by Post-secondary Scholar Jazmin.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen,

First and foremost, I would like to congratulate the newest Fred Taylor Scholars. We are here to celebrate your achievements, recent high school graduation, and the infinite possibilities that lie ahead for each and every one of you.

As a recent college graduate, I can imagine the complex emotions of loss and excitement that you are experiencing as you sit here before us. People who see the cup as half empty would describe graduation as the end. But if we think of life as a book, milestones like graduation only mark the end of a chapter. As we turn the page and move on to the next stage in life, we should look forward to the adventures that lie ahead. Yes, college is certainly an adventure.

I hope that tonight I can transform the lessons that I have learned from the written sections of my book into strategies you can use to be successful in college and in life.

My first piece of advice is to take the time to find yourself. This is your book, and you are the sole author of your story. Believe in yourself, and allow yourself to enjoy the opportunities and experiences presented to you. By keeping an open mind, I discovered my passion for International Relations and adventured across the world from Santiago to Paris. Push yourself out of your comfort zone: for me, that meant studying abroad, but it could be something as simple as joining a new club or taking a class that you wouldn’t normally consider. Do things that are unfamiliar to you because you will learn the most about yourself when you are faced with challenging situations. Don’t settle for comfort, and always strive for more, you will surprise yourself.

My second piece of advice is to ask for help. Even though we are the sole authors of our life story, it’s hard to deny the role that friends, family, teachers, and mentors play in our development. As I struggled through my first year at college, learning to juggle academics, finances, and a social life, I realized that my strong support system could help me overcome any challenge I might encounter. I would like to thank FLOC in particular because no matter where life took me, FLOC would be there. FLOC has really grown with me in these past seven years. In high school, FLOC helped me get through the grueling college application process in one piece and then helped me make my way through college. You will soon come to appreciate those “end of the semester” care packages as much as I did. Second, I cannot deny the role my professors played in both my academic development and in my college experience as a whole. I highly suggest going to office hours, asking for help, and really building a personal connection with your professors early on. They will be your mentors and advocates these next four years. They will be the ones writing your recommendations letters and of course, they are the only ones who know the answers to the exams. Finally, appreciate your family and friends and keep them close. My mother always offered her unconditional support and she is definitely the most important supporting character in my book.

The last piece of advice I have for you is to make new friends and build networks. This may seem obvious, but I cannot stress the importance of the relationships you will build these next few years enough. You will learn as much from your peers as you will from your professors. College is not only a time of academic growth but also a time for experimental learning. While knowing the quadratic formula might help you pass that math exam, it will not necessarily help you find a job. But don’t tell your math professor I said that. By building networks you will be exposed to new ways of thinking and seeing the world, an invaluable skill no matter what you decide to do later in life.

It’s hard to think of my life as a book without imagining the many empty pages that lie ahead. For now, all of our stories remain incomplete, but I am excited to see what is to come because although college is over for me, learning and growing never stop.

I hope these pieces of advice will help you as you start writing the next chapter of you story, of course, there is nothing like experiencing it for yourself so I wish you all the best of luck in all of your endeavors and I urge you to enjoy every minute of your college experience. Thank you.

(Jazmin is a Post-secondary Scholar at FLOC).

2013 Recognition Event and Empower Awards Recap

Recently, FLOC had the opportunity to share an evening with some of our favorite people. Staff members joined with volunteers, community partners, and students and their families for our eighth annual Recognition Event and Empower Awards. Each year, we hold a Recognition Event to showcase and celebrate the people who make our organization so successful. It’s our chance to tell a wider audience some of our favorite stories from the past year.

The theme for this year’s event was Game On!, and we had a blast. We got to play some games like Charades and Telephone, challenge our guests with some FLOC Trivia (Do you know, without researching, when FLOC was founded?*), and, thanks to our incredibly gracious hosts at the Woman’s National Democratic Club, eat some delicious food.

As a staff member, I really appreciate the opportunity to participate in these kinds of events. During the school year, it’s easy to get focused on the specifics of a phonetic concept, or the way a math test is administered, and the big picture, the larger story of our successes and long-term work, can get lost in the shuffle of the day to day. The Recognition Event gives us all a chance to step back and reflect, to offer up thanks for all the special ways folks contribute to our organization. FLOC exists and is effective because we operate in such a great community, and our successes are a direct result of the talent, creativity, and drive of our students, families, volunteers, and partners.

So take a few minutes to look through the pictures from the event, and take stock of the fact that such a large group of people has come together from vastly different backgrounds to work toward the same goal. That’s a unique thing, and it’s well worth recognizing.

*FLOC was founded in 1965

(Cody Laminack is the NTP Curriculum Coordinator at FLOC). 

A Volunteer’s Perspective on Giving to FLOC

Since September, I’ve volunteered with FLOC Tuesday nights from 6-8pm tutoring a middle school student in reading and writing.  While the journey has not always been a smooth one as my student and I learned one another’s boundaries and I remembered what it was like to be in middle school again, overall, it has been an incredibly rewarding experience.  Also, as with most volunteering, I feel like I come away learning more than I’ve given.  I would recommend this organization to anyone in DC who is passionate about education and giving back to the DC community.

Are you looking for an organization to contribute either your time or money to?  Here are 5 reasons you should donate one or the other (or both!) to FLOC:

  1. You’ve got the time.  This past year was a little crazy for me as I welcomed my husband to the US from Guinea (his first time to the US!), continued my studies toward a Master of Arts in International Education and worked full-time with an environmental non-profit here in DC.  All that to say that even if you’re busy – you’ve surely got a couple hours to hang out with a kid who wants to do better in school (or a few minutes to donate some money!).  Volunteering with FLOC takes just a couple hours a week and it’s flexible!  While I sometimes wanted to be doing something else before going to tutoring on Tuesdays, I always felt better afterwards and glad that I had come.  Do you work crazy long hours but are here on the weekends?  FLOC has programs on Saturday.  Are you away most weekends (like me) but have a weeknight free?  FLOC has after school and evening tutoring sessions.  Maybe you can just commit every now and again – FLOC has you covered there, too, with substitute tutoring.
  2. You’ve got the means.  Whether that’s a few hours to spare or $24 to purchase an SAT prep study book for a FLOC scholar, there are many ways you can give back (both of your time and monetarily).
  3. You’ve got the heart.  It’s hard to argue with helping children get back to their grade level in reading, writing and math.  Check out FLOC’s website to learn more about what they do!
  4. You’ve got the desire.  In casually talking with friends and co-workers, so many have expressed an interest in joining a volunteer organization in the area but they haven’t found one that works for them.  Maybe FLOC is for you!
  5. You’ve got what it takes.  While I don’t know you, if you’ve stumbled across the FLOC blog or read it regularly, you’re probably pretty great!  I’m sure you’ve got what it takes to give back to an organization that is doing so much for the DC community.

Please don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have questions (or leave your comments below!).  I’d love to share more about my experience with FLOC with you and hope you’ll think today about contributing to their organization.

From Tim Payne’s email: 

Follow FLOC on FacebookTwitter, and read their  blog to help spread FLOC’s key message:

In DC, poverty persists: over 75% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch.  The opportunity gap widens: barely 40% of secondary students are proficient in reading or math and average SAT scores put DC seniors in the lowest 20th percentile of their college-bound peers. For Love of Children (FLOC) is focused on closing this gap, 1 student at a time, and since 2006, 100% of FLOC’s high school seniors have graduated on time and all been accepted into a postsecondary institution. FLOC’s unique range of programming and curricula adapts to each student, providing consistent individualized support to over 600 students from the day they come through our doors to the day they earn their postsecondary degree.

Donate!

Minimum donation is $10

$12: Fees for processing one volunteer at FLOC

$24: SAT prep study book for a FLOC Scholar

$48: Reading materials for one year for a student in FLOC’s Neighborhood Tutoring Program

(Jennifer Bangoura is a volunteer at FLOC.  A version of this story appeared on her personal blog during FLOC’s participation in the DoMore24 campaign last week).

Summer Camp: A Student’s Perspective

There are many things that one would do in FLOC camp. I know FLOC is offering different camps now, but this is supposed to be about what I did in the last years camp. In a two weeks time period we had done activities with the “main ideas” of ecology, conquering fears, and fun. I also met new people.

One of the most common teachings was of ecology. Ecology is the study of relationships between living organisms and their environment. Last year I remember specifically talking about swamps, but that wasn’t all. While still in ecology FLOC staff taught us about eco-friendly energy sources. Since then I have been inspired and try to be more conscious about how much energy I use.  Camp has opened my eyes to another branch of science.

Another category was the conquering of your fears. I suppose you could also call being in uncomfortable situations. At FLOC we have to do uncomfortable things- which is different for everything- from bugs to sleeping on the hard ground of the earth. There is a lot of obstacles dealing with heights too, you don’t have to do them, but if you’re scared of heights you should try it. I have even conquered a fear while at camp.

Last is how much fun I had. The subjects before this was fun to me, I think everything was. Some fun activities were hiking/backing, camping, and canoeing. Meeting new people is always fun, it might not seem like it at first.

In this writing I may have not gotten the point straight across. The point is FLOC provides valuable memories. It is hard to come across those types of organizations sometimes. Also, this is a very vague writing, in hopes of not spoiling. I know I’ll be at camp and I hope to see you there too.

(Jordan is a student in the Leaders in Action program at FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center).

Share Your FLOC Story for Do More 24

Starting at midnight tonight, for one day only FLOC will be partnering with the United Way of the National Capital Area and hundreds of other area nonprofits to inspire and encourage our community to give where we live for Do More 24.

FLOC relies on a strong network of volunteers, families, and community partners to help students succeed from first grade through college and career. The following is just a glimpse into what FLOC means to them:

“You have the ability to adapt the curriculum to each student’s needs” –FLOC Volunteer

“The instructors treat the students well and my time here has helped me meet new friends and learn how to work well with others on a team.” –FLOC Student

“When [students] pass their tests, there’s a certificate to go on the refrigerator and a sticker. A gorgeous paper with an “A” on it. The best is the pride in their accomplishment.” –FLOC Volunteer

“I really didn’t like math, but the tutor made it fun and more educational for me.  Now I understand it better.”  -FLOC Student

“I could tell that they cared about her and her education.” –FLOC Parent

“I enjoy mentoring children and want to help out kids in my community here in DC.” –FLOC Volunteer

“It was not just ‘apply to college, it was ‘apply to lots of colleges and ultimately choose the best school for me.’ FLOC helped me see that a girl like me can do anything I put my mind towards.” –FLOC Student

Do More 24 is about sharing our stories. No matter your connection to FLOC, we all believe in a common mission and that together we can teach, empower and transform. Tomorrow, share your story of FLOC with others and consider making a small donation to FLOC.

For more information, visit our Do More 24 page.

(Kate Fleischer is the Development Assistant at FLOC).

FLOC Receives Additional Two-Year Grant from The Volgenau Foundation

Last year, FLOC’s Neighborhood Tutoring Program received a first-time grant of $15,000 from The Volgenau Foundation.  FLOC was excited to begin a partnership with The Volgenau Foundation and continue NTP’s growth with their support.  This year we asked the Foundation to consider a request for a two-year grant and FLOC is thrilled to report that the Foundation has not only met our request, but has exceeded it by awarding a two-year, $50,000 grant for Neighborhood Tutoring!

The Volgenau Foundation is a grantmaking foundation supporting environment, education, and the arts, was established in 1994 in McLean, Virginia. FLOC is one of their selected grantees in their education category.  The Volgenau Foundation supports nonprofits that engage organizations, families, and children in activities that enhance academic success, promote ethical understanding, and teach leadership skills.

FLOC is grateful for the Foundation’s commitment to our students and is truly honored to have received this grant.  We look forward to expanding our partnership with The Volgenau Foundation in the coming years.

(Kate Fleischer is the Development Assistant at FLOC).