Tell us about yourself.
- My name is Greg Dickie. I have been involved with the tutoring program for three years through the Tuckahoe Family YMCA.
Tell us about the program that you volunteer for.
- This program is for children who are learning English as a second language. These kids are from all different parts of the world and the child I am tutoring now is from Nepal as well as the student I tutored last year and the first year I had a child from Sudan. These kids are very intelligent, motivated and you can tell that they really want to learn. For the most part, language is their only barrier. These kids are elementary-aged kids so they learn a lot more quickly. We meet at the Tuckahoe library. The Y does a great job coordinating this program. We work with the children one hour each week on Mondays during the school year.
What are some challenges you face when tutoring?
- Most of our focus is on reading. We do a little bit of speech practice, but for the most part it’s pretty good. There are a lot of nuances in English that we don’t think about that can be troubling for someone trying to learn. We run into difficulties with given names and concepts like “bed and breakfast” or “Halloween.” Someone who isn’t from the United States might not understand what that is exactly so we talk through it.
How did you find out about this particular volunteer opportunity?
- The former Executive Director of the Tuckahoe Family YMCA knew I was about to retire and she asked me what I was going to do with all my free time. I told her I hoped to do some volunteer work so she suggested this opportunity and I said, “Well that sounds like a good match!” So, I got involved right when I retired.
What is something you’ve gained through this volunteer experience?
- I’ve gained a lot of different things, actually! I’ve gained a feeling that I’m helping somebody that really wants to be helped. These are really motivated kids and the parents are very interested in their progress. These parents are depending on their kids to learn English well. The parents all speak it, but the kids are far ahead of their parents. The parents also realize how important it is to their future. It will help everything else in their life fall into place. There is a great appreciation expressed for what we do and that’s motivating. And I’ve gained a feeling as if I’m making a difference – in one small way, helping one child, it’s not a huge thing to do but it’s huge to these families. Sometimes I think doing that one specific thing may make more of an impact than something that’s broader.
Anything else you’d like to add?
- This Y is really doing a great job of reaching out and helping people in all kinds of different ways. A lot of the kids in this tutoring program are also Y members so they come here and I see them sometimes and that’s always a nice feeling. These families are getting started here so they don’t have the opportunity to hop in the car and go to Kings Dominion so they come here on a Saturday so everyone in the family can enjoy something recreational. It’s really a nice outreach that the Y has done in this program to help these kids.
National Volunteer Week is April 23-29. Consider celebrating with one of our many opportunities at the YMCA. Find the perfect opportunity for you here.