Alabama – Bullock County Retirees/Support Personnel Association
Henry Ford once said, "Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success." Through collaboration, the members of the Bullock County Retirees/Support Personnel Association were able to create new opportunities for success in two struggling schools.
Volunteers selected an "Adopt-A-School" program as their community service project after county schools failed to reach their Average Yearly Progress goals for the previous year. Members divided themselves into two teams, one made up of elementary school teachers, the other high school teachers. Each team spent hours meeting with faculty, staff and students to assess factors impacting performance from attendance, behavior and study skills to help at home. They then developed a plan, set up a schedule for action.
At the middle school, retirees worked with 58 seventh grade and special education students. They served as tutors and counselors and provided mentoring. At the high school, retirees worked with more than 50 students. Services included tutoring students in math and reading and acting as hall monitors, role models and motivators. The retirees even extended the project to a third elementary school and worked with struggling readers. Their tutoring helped the elementary students exceed the state's reading goal.
The words of one parent leader said it all: "We could definitely see a change in their study habits and their willingness to attend school daily…their grades improved, they became more interested in reading, and they did more homework." These volunteers set the standard in systematically identifying the needs of these two schools, matching volunteers' skills to fill the gaps and working together with students, teachers and administrators to put the schools back on the right track.
Indiana – Dearborn County Retired Teachers Association
"Pie is a symbol of something bigger than Mom and her way with desserts." ~ Pasquale Le Draqulec, author and food critic. That is true for the efforts of the Dearborn County Retired Teachers Association, who used pie baking in the fight against cancer.
In 2007, the Dearborn Country Retired Teachers Association began participating in a youth volunteering and fundraising effort, Relay for Life, to make apple pies to fund and support cancer research. While the energy and inspiration of this project came from the local youth, there was a need for more adult involvement as pie sales continued to increase.
Members from the Dearborn County Retired Teachers Association became involved and began assisting the youth in all aspects of the project, including peeling, cleaning, mixing, filling, weighing and packaging the pies. Their motto became "Funding a Cure, One Pie at a Time." One volunteer commented, "What I am so proud of is we've had cancer survivors helping make the pies. It means so much."
In 2008, customers started asking for apple turnovers and turnover making was added to the list of responsibilities. Because of their efforts, this year 104 youth and adults made 1,090 pies and 2,300 turnovers with a profit of $11,072.00.
In Dearborn County, pie is a symbol of something bigger. It brings together multiple generations for a single purpose and helps fight cancer one slice at a time.
Montana – Local Big Sky Unit
The volunteers of the Local Big Sky Unit have been keeping exceptionally busy this year in virtually every corner of their community. With more than 3,005 volunteer hours providing direct and indirect services to elementary through high school students, chances are that most youth have crossed paths with unit volunteers over the course of the past year.
Members have an ongoing relationship on many levels with local youth and volunteer in numerous places throughout the community, including classrooms from preschool through college, the public library, Museum of the Rockies, ham radio and the Breakfast Optimist Club. At the school health fair, volunteers are instrumental in helping students learn about the benefits of good health, cleanliness, brushing teeth, vision and eating nutritious food. Middle grade students are monitored two hours per week at the Clothes Closet, where students sort clothes, prepare displays and learn to keep records of individuals who donate. Volunteers provide a safe place for nearly 100 high school students to gather and eat when they serve lunch on Maniac Mondays, a special program that provides nutritious lunches to students throughout the school year.
Some of the indirect services of the members of the Local Big Sky Unit include a total of $800 in scholarships for two students; donations to the Deaf and Blind School, the Bozeman Public Library, Friends of Music, Destination Imagination and the Wounded Warriers program. Members also donated hundreds of children's books for families picking up food at the food bank.
Members of the Local Big Sky Unit embody the meaning of community. Their knowledge, skills, intentions and actions help to enhance the lives of children and their families. Living by example, these volunteers are also teaching youth to become better students and better citizens.