Thursday, March 11, 2010

Make a Difference: Volunteer in a New York City School

I just finished my training to become a volunteer at Learning Leaders.

I found out about them from Ms. Bertilia Diaz, the Parent Coordinator at Hamilton Heights School in Harlem. She was so enthusiastic about them that I had to check them out. I had been trying to get involved as a volunteer in my son’s previous school but was incredibly frustrated when I found that I couldn’t even give away free services because nobody ever called me back. I did not want to pursue another dead-end opportunity to get involved.

Well, I was pleasantly disappointed in my determination to be frustrated again when I walked in for my training that first day. I was met by a great group of parents with similar interests, hot coffee and fresh bagels with cream cheese in the school lobby. After our yummy breakfast, we all moved onto the school library where we met we Luis Lopez, one of the Program Coordinators for Learning Leaders. Mr. Lopez was enthusiastic, knowledgeable and drew you into his high energy almost immediately. For some reason that I never quite got, parents and schools have been pitted against each other in New York City for too long – each often viewing any input from the other as “interference”. Mr. Lopez understands that at a very basic level since he coordinates volunteer opportunities for parents and has had personal experience as a public school parent. Learning Leaders works very hard to help parents and the schools to work together for the greater good of the children and the community at large.

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