S4G and Belong!

Bring Educational Resources and “Build + Learn” Event to Underserved Students

Article by Sheila Murphy – S4G

Photos by Faith Boettger

The Mclean/Vienna/Oakton area is home to median household incomes above $200K, median housing prices above $1.1M, top public schools, and competitive (and expensive) sports programs, to name a few. It is easy to forget that there are low-income, immigrant, and refugee families with school-aged children who live in our neighborhoods and struggle every day. Many of these families experience poverty because of limited language proficiency, low levels of formal education, and minimum-wage earnings. The figures are staggering and shed light on a growing problem:

Belong! (http://www.belongvienna.org/) is a Vienna nonprofit that cares for its neighbors by spreading love through education and service. Its youth academic and enrichment programs provide students in our community with educational support and extracurricular activities that empower them to achieve academic success and become well-rounded adults. As part of this program, volunteer mentors work one-on-one with students after school each week to help with remedial math and reading skills. Students come mostly from families where English is a second language and parents work long hours without the time or resources needed to help their children succeed in the classroom.

This February, S4G joined forces with Belong! to provide educational supplies and enrichment experiences to underserved children attending Cunningham Park and Marshall Road elementary schools. S4G’s support was particularly timely, as Belong! recently added a third area school, Freedom Hill, to its program. S4G members purchased workbooks, other educational materials, games, books, and supplies for Belong!’s after-school programs. These in-kind purchases totaled $2,366. In addition, S4G raised $2820 in financial donations that will support field trips and other enrichment opportunities on teacher workdays and holidays. Members also donated 100+  gently used books and games for students and mentors to enjoy after studying.

The highlight of the project was a fun “Build + Learn” event held on February 20 at Vienna Presbyterian Church. Organized by S4G’s February Project Team, the event allowed 60 students and mentors to build a trusting relationship in a fun social setting. It also provided 26 S4G members a hands-on opportunity to engage with these hardworking students. “Hands down, this was the most engaged and memorable mentor-mentee event that Belong! has had in our history! S4G’s expertise, generosity, attention to detail, and flexibility are amazing. What an asset S4G is to our community!”, said Lynn O’Connell, Executive Director of Belong! After sharing dinner together, Belong! students and their mentors had the opportunity to visit several activity tables where they made bookmarks, glow jars, created a photo collage for Belong!’s use, and played Twister. S4G members supervised the activity tables, socialized with students and mentors through games, and ensured the evening ran smoothly.

S4G is an all-volunteer, grassroots organization that brings together engaged women who want to meet new people and support the organizations that make our community strong. Each month, this column will highlight S4G’s monthly project to raise awareness of critical needs in our community and local nonprofits making a difference.

To learn more about S4G or to support local nonprofits, visit www.social4good.community.

Latest from Instagram