Written by Sydnei Washington

Being a part of the Engaged Citizen Corps program has provided me with the tools and resources to be the caring, productive citizen I’ve always dreamed of being. This program is filled with kind, thoughtful, and caring people that take you on an exploration on how to give back to others in a way that helps more than it hurts. By learning that intent isn’t everything and that creating dependency is not productive, service learning is about giving and taking for both the community being helped and the student learning. I now volunteer and do activities that I know help communities.

Not only does this program provide insight into the toxic aspects of charity and the things that we need to improve on when giving back to others, it also provides real life experiences and ways to implement these tools of effective community service. Through this program each student gets paired up with their own non-profit, in which they help the organization in various ways. I can honestly say working at my non-profit has contributed to so many of the great memories I have from college so far. I work at Children Family Urban Movement, an organization that provides free after school programing for children of Moulton Elementary. The organization also provides breakfast and dinner to the kids and community members.

While at this organization I have helped with many different age groups but I have worked closely with a group of girls called the “Wonder Girls.” This program is designed to get fifth grade girls ready to go to middle school. It focuses on their emotions, friendship developing skills, working hard, kindness, giving back to others, and navigating the challenges of being growing young ladies. While working with the girls I have developed very close relationships with them and implemented different workshops, lessons, and programs to get the girls to better understand these topics. I had the great pleasure of creating a journaling program that allowed the girls to journal back and forth with me. This program not only allowed me to get closer with the girls and better understand their struggles, it also allowed me to give them advice and guidance on deep topics they may not feel comfortable discussing in front of their peers.

Working with these girls has truly been an honor and I learn more and more from them every time I go in. This experience is all thanks to the amazing Engaged Citizen Corps program and I will forever be grateful for the knowledge and experience this program gave me.