Tutoring, campus clean ups, working with non-profit organizations and other volunteering opportunities have added up to hundreds of thousands of hours donated by the Class of 2018 back to the community.
This year’s senior class is the first cohort required to complete 30 hours of community service per year or 120 hours for their four years of high school. The requirement began in fall 2014.
“EPISD believes that education is more than just about textbooks and laptops,” said Tim Holt, director of Innovation and Pilot programs. “It’s about teaching our students to give back to the community.”
Holt has been working on the community service project since its inception. He encourages students to look to their campuses for opportunities to volunteer and even consider reading or tutoring to students in their feeder pattern.
“Too often people stereotype teenagers as lazy, uncaring, and self centered,” Holt said. “By creating a district wide army of students that volunteer, we hope to break down some of those perceptions. Not only are we building a better citizen, we are creating a more empathetic student, one who will take the idea of giving back into their college years and beyond.”
Students also find the experience rewarding.
“Giving back to the community is very important in the development of a person,” said senior Irvin High School senior Alyssa Lomeli. “We as students, need to humble ourselves in order to help others.”
Lomeli plays an active role on campus, too. She’s StuCo treasurer, Community Service chair and senior class vice president.
“Volunteering teaches you to be compassionate, responsible and develop life skills that seniors will use later on in life,” she said.
EPISD has partnered with the United Way of El Paso to help students find volunteering opportunities, login hours and give campuses a place to list their volunteer needs. Students can set up an account with United Way on its volunteerelpaso.org website, which is also linked from the District’s Community Service page. Both pages are available for students to use to log hours.
“It is important for students to volunteer because it creates a sense of initiative, leadership, and engagement for our community,” said Brandon Guzman, community impact associate with United Way. “Volunteerism is based on the premise that we all have some time and talent to give, and that bringing people together, rather than working in isolation, strengthens and can achieve greater impact.”
More than 250 agencies are accessible through Volunteer El Paso with a wide range of opportunities for community service.
“This service is a free online source for students to create individual profiles and search for volunteer opportunities right here in our community,” said Brandon Guzman, community impact associate at United Way. “This service provides additional support for our students to help meet their volunteer service hours required for graduation, community support, and overall success.”
Opportunities include helping at local food banks, homeless shelters and providing administrative support, marketing and outreach for nonprofit organizations.
“We also have one-time specific events that students can volunteer with such as the McKelligon Canyon Green Up, which helps beautify our parks, and Project Bravo Paint-A-Thon, which helps our seniors and physically disabled by re-painting their homes,” Guzman said.
The service also gives EPISD campuses a place to post their volunteer opportunities on the volunteerelpaso.org website. Campus volunteer (VIPS) chairs can contact Guzman to set up an account to show campus-based volunteering opportunities for students such as mentoring, homework assistance and event help. United Way is working with the VIPS program to ensure volunteers are eligible to participate.
For more information, email Guzman at firstname.lastname@example.org.