When Connor Method, a senior in the College of Business Administration, volunteered with the Marquette Volunteer Corps, he didn’t anticipate the obstacles that reading to three, four and five-year-olds creates.
“You have two or three kids fighting for lap space and tugging at the book you’re trying to read,” Method said about volunteering at the Next Door Foundation, his first and most frequent site. “These are kids that aren’t used to being read to.”
Method is a team leader with the volunteer corps. He previously volunteered as a team member when the program started on campus two years ago.
When the volunteer corps started, there were around 30 participants. Hannah Sternig, a graduate assistant for the Center for Community Service, said there are now more than 70.
While Method worked primarily with youth, education and early childhood literacy, other volunteer sites provide opportunities to work in areas of homelessness, refugee transition and adult education.
“My site really focuses on battling childhood illiteracy, which is great because it is an issue in Milwaukee,” Method said.
A representative from Empowering Latinos, one of the community partners of the eight sites, sent an email to Sternig explaining the benefits of the program’s adult participants.
“Our Empowering Latinos participants have gone on to open their own businesses, interact more with their supervisors and colleagues at work, become chaperones at their children’s schools to get more involved in their children’s education, passed their citizenship tests and have achieved many more goals,” Sternig said in the email.
Sternig said the Center for Community Service, the office that runs the volunteer corps, hopes to grow the program and expand from the eight sites that are currently available to volunteers.
“I’ve served at the Guest House of Milwaukee both semesters and I plan on going back next semester,” said Callyn Rath, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences. “I hope to be involved in Volunteer Corps as long as I am at Marquette.”
Rath is finishing her second semester of volunteering with the corps. She said it is a great way to do a couple hours of volunteer work each week.
“I liked the idea of consistent service,” Method said.
Members volunteer Monday through Wednesday with their team at the assigned site. Sternig said teams can get up to six corps members and one team leader, or as many students that can fit in a van.
According to Sternig, members usually get their first choice of site, but she hasn’t heard any complaints from those who don’t.
“I started off thinking that I would be working in adult education and ended up working with kids,” Method said. “Kids have been, for me at least, a ton of fun. It’s like a stress reliever.”
There is no limit to the number of years students can volunteer with the corps. Some, like Rath, plan on volunteering until they graduate.
“It is great because you get to see your impact over time,” Method said. “It is a move for all of us to be active citizens in the community and be constantly aware of the issues affecting all of us.”