Submitted by Rebekah Lin
The Remington Homework Club (HWC) was founded several years ago by the Church of the Guardian Angel on 27th and Huntingdon in Remington. The idea was to provide children and youth in the neighborhood with a place to go for homework help. We are funded by a grant from the Episcopal diocese, and over the years we’ve built up a base of volunteers and others who participate in a variety of ways. Currently, HWC meets from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. every Monday at the church. On any given week, we have about 20 students and 15 tutors.
I have been involved with HWC since September 2007. I started as a tutor – I found a posting online calling for tutors, and the time and location worked well with my work schedule at the time. I had just graduated from JHU was working at a publishing company, but had a feeling I was more interested in working with kids/youth than I was in proofreading and correcting grammar. I have since switched jobs to a nonprofit that works with after-school programs. I don’t know if I have tangible reasons for staying so committed to HWC, but I know it gives me a chance to put into practice much of what I talk about at work, and a chance to see firsthand how volunteers from the community can truly have a positive impact on Baltimore’s youth (as corny as that may sound).
In January 2008, I became the Director, and have been ever since. My main responsibilities are to recruit tutors and to take care of the logistics of our Monday night meetings. Most of the tutors are young professionals who have heard about us in a variety of ways (mainly online or by word of mouth), but we also have a relationship with two student groups at Hopkins, which provides an additional five tutors. The logistics for our meetings include soliciting volunteers to donate dinner, setting up the space, purchasing needed supplies, setting the calendar, etc.
Most of the students at HWC come from within a few blocks of the church. The handful that don’t live within four or five blocks either used to, or have family that does. Our current grade range is second through tenth, so most of the students attend Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle. The older students attend high schools across the city, including Western, Digital Harbor, and Mergenthaler.
Two HWC high school students with award certificates. HWC holds an awards ceremony every December and May.
Since I started with HWC, our attendance has doubled. Beyond this growth, my biggest goal has been to stress the importance of coming every week – to both students and tutors. As we’ve been able to have more and more consistent tutor/student pairs, nearly everything – from attendance to behavior to my stress levels – has improved. The pairs that have been together since the beginning of this school year, if not last school year, are absolutely the most successful. The importance of these relationships is the root of HWC’s biggest successes and biggest challenges. It is incredible to see students get excited every week to see their tutors. It is rewarding to see the relationships develop. And it is trying to see students disappointed when their tutor doesn’t come, or tutors struggling to form a relationship with a different student every week, because the students don’t come back.
Tutors and students help cook a snack at HWC.
Every week, at least one student tells me that HWC needs to meet every day, or at least more than once a week. This reminds me that the work we do matters and is appreciated, and also reminds me of the limits of our resources. Every week, I see more and more students becoming comfortable with their tutors as well as with me, more and more students getting older and more mature, and more and more tutors becoming invested in what HWC does.
HWC is always looking for additional volunteers as well as people willing to donate a dinner (we have a full dinner every week, from 6:00-6:30) or other needed supplies. To learn more, contact Rebekah at firstname.lastname@example.org.