As we have stressed several times within this website, our many valued donors make all of our programs possible. Our equally valued volunteers sustain us with their time, energy and talents.

In coming months we will continue to recognise our wonderful groups of volunteers collectively, and in some instances individually for their continued contributions in support of our students.

This month we begin our volunteer profiles with our invaluable Junior Mentors who provide daily, one-on-one support and guidance to our students.

Junior Mentors

Big Tween Fish in a Small Friendly Pond

In celebration of entering into our 10th year, Cedar Hill CDC has fully realized the goal of having children graduate from the program and later return to become paid employees. We have done so this past year with a full circle of children passing through our doors.

This new school year proves to be a monumental one. An after school program, like ours, is different from a traditional classroom in terms that we have the advantage of interacting with the same children for years. Teachers get a student for only one year and they move on. We have the advantage of more time to build a relationship with a child and their family. With this passage of time come trust, understanding and a true sense of community.

With the graduation of six students this past school year, we have happily seen the return of four of these students in the form of volunteers. These children are now “Junior Mentors” and their duties include: assisting children with hand washing, serving snacks, tutoring in homework, assisting supervision of recess and general housekeeping.

We currently have six junior mentors as volunteers and two paid staff that all attended our program. There is no greater satisfaction than over hearing a junior mentor explaining to a child how to be safe on the playground or focus on their homework, using the same language that they absorbed over the years being students themselves. Their tone is kind and their words are encouraging. This experience for the mentors and their mentees is no doubt profoundly positive. No one learns better than those being apprenticed by someone who has walked in their shoes and can freshly remember the experience.

The center has a real sense of community, family and growth. We are a soft place to fall for those tweens and teens looking to belong to something that is familiar and comfortable.

Here there is no competition, no winners or losers and no uniforms. Here they know the ropes. They are needed and nurtured (not to mention well fed!), feeling in charge without the full responsibility of having a paid job.

This experience will hopefully pave the way to greater confidence, higher self esteem and a strong work ethic. We are thrilled that these children want to return to us. Their parents are grateful that they are with us, still being supervised, guided and safe. Our students have the benefit of these older role models and we all benefit with the extra hands to help.