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Florida State University’s Volunteer Mentoring Program Continues to Help Boys Town Youth during Pandemic

For many years, Boys Town North Florida and Florida State University's (FSU) Center for Leadership and Social Change have partnered to provide essential academic mentoring to Boys Town youth. FSU's EngageTLH program is a volunteer opportunity for students to meet Boys Town youth at North Florida's ART Town who need academic support. Each Tuesday and Thursday evening, FSU students would help Boys Town North Florida youth with their homework and other difficult materials.

When the COVID-19 pandemic sent our country into lockdown, FSU students were still determined to ensure they could provide the help and mentoring that Boys Town youth needed. In June 2020, FSU and Boys Town started collaborating virtually via Zoom to offer these tutoring services and academic opportunities to Boys Town kids who were seeking the extra academic support. Each week during the summer, volunteers and students joined together to discuss interesting and educational topics such as virtual field trips to the Hawaiian Volcanos and masterclasses watching volunteers play and discuss musical instruments in real time. After this experience from the summer, Boys Town North Florida was confident they could continue hosting Academic Mentoring online via Zoom as well.

Since its beginning last summer, Academic Mentoring has been a regular occurrence at Boys Town North Florida each Tuesday and Thursday evening, just like it was during the in-person sessions. Since starting virtually in August, two dedicated volunteers, Paige Rhein and Ashley Powell, have acted as the FSU facilitators and join to help facilitate each and every Academic Mentoring session.

Ashley and Paige have dedicated many hours each week to ensure Academic Mentoring goes over as smoothly as possible and Boys Town North Florida is very thankful for their commitment.

"Boys Town has meant more to me this past year more than I ever thought it would," said Paige Rhein. "With COVID-19 hindering our ability to hold in-person classes, many students like myself have found it hard to learn the class material without face-to-face instruction and help. Not only do we aid them in their coursework but we talk to them each week about their lives and get to know them for who they are outside of school. It has been rewarding to see the kids grow as individuals and succeed in their classes over the past year. In the future, if circumstances permit, I hope to meet these amazing individuals in person."

Boys Town North Florida is also thankful for the many volunteers who help tutor. Many of these volunteers frequently attend tutoring sessions every single week. Two of the amazing volunteers include Rodina Richard and Livia Hochman. They are amazing, dedicated students that always have a smile on their face and show up with a willingness to help the kids.

Rodina started volunteering at Boys Town North Florida her freshman year of college when she was looking for a permanent place to volunteer her time. "Being a freshman at Florida State University, it was difficult to find a permanent place to volunteer in Tallahassee," said Rodina. "As I was searching for a place to use my mentoring and tutoring skills, I came across ART Town at Boys Town North Florida. Boys Town allowed me to form lifelong relationships and make memories with the students in each Family Home. Being a consistent volunteer from freshman year up until my junior year of college has allowed me to evolve as an individual. Being a helping hand for Boys Town means a lot to me. ART Town at Boys Town North Florida has been the best thing I could have dedicated time, sweat, and effort to while pursuing a degree here in Tallahassee."

Boys Town is very thankful for the wonderful volunteers that help with these tutoring sessions! They have been a big help in making our students successful in the classroom!