Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News, Tutor Perspectives

Malik and Me: Adventures in Reading and Writing with FLOC


When I moved to Washington, DC in June 2012, I wanted to volunteer with an organization in the area where I could work one-on-one with someone to have a sense of consistency and to have a more tangible grasp on how my time was making a difference.  When I found FLOC, through the recommendation of a friend-of-a-friend, it was icing on the cake that I found an organization where I would not only serve my community, but also strengthen my skills in curriculum development and lesson planning.

The first day I met Malik, I knew FLOC had made a great match.  We completed the getting-to-know-you worksheets in his guidebook and learned about the countries and places we wanted to visit and our favorite subjects in school.  I learned that Malik had visited my hometown, Virginia Beach, and that he likes to go fishing with his grandfather.  I shared some stories from my time in Mali, where I served for close to four years as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and Malik told me about the West African drumming he does in school.  Who knew that I would find so much in common with a 6th grade boy?

Four months later, I still look forward to every Tuesday evening when Malik and I meet at FLOC headquarters for two hours in Adams Morgan.  We use a curriculum guide to get his reading and writing up to his grade level and a vocabulary workbook to improve Malik’s store of words.  We’ll read aloud, or silently, from one of his favorite books, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and we usually wrap up our sessions with a rousing game of Connect Four or Monopoly.  I love learning more about Malik and seeing him flourish as a student.  I think he likes having two hours of undivided attention and seeing his reading and writing improve so much.

It’s already early February and Malik and I only have a couple more months together before summer break.  As I look ahead, I hope that we can maintain the momentum we’ve had thus far and continue to enjoy our time together as much as it seems we both have.  I continue to learn from Malik about what it means to be a sensitive, curious and joyful person and I hope I can share some of my qualities with Malik, too.  When I moved to Washington, DC I wanted to be able to see how my time was making an impact.  It’s such a treat to work with Malik and see the results of our hard work right in front of me with a smile on his face – and mine!

(Jennifer Bangoura is a tutor in the Tuesday Night Reading program).


14 Reasons to Volunteer at FLOC in 2014

(Photo by: Tanjot Bhatia, a tutor in our Thursday Night Math program)
(Photo by: Tanjot Bhatia, a tutor in our Thursday Night Math program)

In the beginning of a new year people often make resolutions. Many want to improve their lives as well as the life of others. Engaging in volunteer work is perhaps the best way to do this. Here are 14 reasons why volunteering at For Love of Children (FLOC) should be one of your resolutions for this new year.

14. Give back to the community

When we volunteer in our community we feel the satisfaction of making a difference by helping those in need. It is a good way to support your own community and see the results at first-hand. Many of our volunteers have highlighted this as their main reason to volunteer at FLOC.

(Photo by: Tanjot Bhatia, a tutor in our Thursday Night Math program)
(Photo by: Tanjot Bhatia, a tutor in our Thursday Night Math program)

13. Work with kids

If you enjoy spending time with kids and youth this is a great opportunity for you. Volunteering at FLOC is a great way to be in a fun and cheerful environment.

12. Grow professionally

Volunteering provides the opportunity to explore new career paths and gain experience in a different field. Many people have discovered their passion while doing volunteer work. A recent report by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) shows that “unemployed individuals who volunteer are 27% more likely to find work than non-volunteers.”

11. Meet new people

Whether you just moved to DC and want to expand your network or you already live in the area and want to improve your social skills, volunteering can help you to make new connections and strengthen your ties to the community.

10. Learn about yourself

When we volunteer we are often exposed to a different environment and we face new challenges. This can help us to learn more about ourselves and discover hidden skills and talents that can be transferred to your personal and professional life.

9. Learn about the community

Providing direct service can help you gain a better understanding of the community that you are serving; including their needs, strengths, limitations and resources.

8. Stay healthy

A report published on 2007 by the CNCS showed that “volunteers are more likely to experience positive health benefits. In fact, serving others may increase longevity, lead to greater functional ability later in life, and strengthen one’s resilience when dealing with health problems.”

7. Increase your self-confidence

Serving others can help boost your sense of accomplishment. When we feel that we are making a difference we feel better about ourselves and the community that we are serving.

6.  Help us serve more students

When you volunteer at FLOC, you allow one more student to have the opportunity to improve their reading and math and have the necessary skills to excel in their academic, professional and personal life.

5. Save resources

Your help is needed and valuable. According to a study by the Independent Sector, the estimated value of a volunteer hour in DC is $34.04.

4. Inspire others

Volunteering allows you to inspire others by sharing your knowledge and passion. Whether you love to read or enjoy math you will have a chance to make a positive and lasting impact in the lives of our students.

(Photo by: Tanjot Bhatia, a tutor in our Thursday Night Math program)
(Photo by: Tanjot Bhatia, a tutor in our Thursday Night Math program)

3. Invest in the future success of the students

One-on-one tutoring is an efficient way for students to improve their competency. On average, only 22 hours of tutoring are needed for students to improve one year in competency.

2. Escape from the routine

Engaging in volunteer work can provide a positive and fun way to escape from the everyday routine. A recent study by the UnitedHealth Group and the Optum Institute revealed that volunteering helps people to manage and lower their stress levels.

1. Find purpose

When we help others we also help ourselves. Dedicating a few hours from our time can make a big difference and help us identify our purpose. This can increase our sense of well-being and bring joy to our lives.


Participating in volunteer work allows you to put into practice your unique skills, ideas and experiences while gaining new perspective and helping others. It certainly benefits you as well as the community that you are serving.

Consider volunteering at FLOC this year. Learn more about our volunteer opportunities and complete an online application at

(Lisvette García is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Associate at FLOC).