Elon student volunteers mentor Alamance County students during pandemic

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Elon University’s partnership with The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club, continues to tutor and inspire young students in Alamance County.

While many in-person service activities have been suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, Elon students have continued to be able to work with The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Alamance County as they support local students. Coordinators of the university’s partnership with the Boys & Girls Club have come together to adapt to the needs of local students during this unprecedented time that has come with significant learning challenges.

Through its after-school program, The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Alamance County works to “inspire and enable all young people to realize their full potential.” The organization works with the university to staff the program with student volunteers. These volunteers tutor Alamance County students to meet their academic goals, an experience that continues to foster meaningful relationships as students have the opportunity to serve as mentors.

LINCS volunteer coordinator Abigail Fisher ’23 says Elon student volunteers have become role models especially as the students they are mentoring try to continue their learning and make sense of the world during this abnormal school year.

“I would say this program is needed now more than ever,” she said. “But also I would say that this program is a place where you can really see how as a person you’re like singularly making an impact on other people and other kids’ lives.”

Since the fall, The Boys & Girls Club has been operating with extended hours in response to the Alamance County school district operating on a remote schedule. Instead of only opening for their after school program, The Boys and Girls Club has been open from 6:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each school day Throughout the day, Elon volunteers and student workers facilitate learning and assist students in completing their coursework.

The after-school program is still offered from 3 to 5:30 p.m. during the week. This afternoon session engages the students in various activities to take a break from learning through their screens.

Other changes this year include a reduced program capacity. There are roughly 35 students currently enrolled in the program, which is about half as many as usual due to COVID-19 safety guidelines. The majority of the students are in second to fifth grade, however, the program includes everyone from kindergarteners to high schoolers.

Aside from the extended hours and reduced capacity, Fisher says the communal energy of the Boys and Girls club remains the same.

“My favorite part of this program is just really watching how the kids are growing. I really love the relationships that I’ve made with them,” she said. “It’s like a big family here.”

A summer program will run the week after the district’s school year ends. The Boys & Girls Club is currently hiring Elon students who are interested in working at the organization as a camp counselor this summer. For more information on how to volunteer and/or summer program applications, contact bgc@elon.edu.