How to donate
The Gainesville Housing Authority’s Neighborhood Network accepts donations of snacks, clothes and school supplies for kids to help out the tutoring program. Call Jonathan Velez at 770-536-1294.
For some Gainesville State College sociology students, service learning is more than just a class requirement.
It's an opportunity to be a role model for local students at the Gainesville Housing Authority.
"A lot of these kids don't have anyone at home when they get home from school. Their parents work 12-hour shifts," said Allisha Travis, 24, a sophomore at Gainesville State from Rabun County. "I think they like having someone come who they can look up to and talk to."
Travis said the elementary students involved get a snack — which sometimes is the only meal they'll get in the evening — and help with homework, as well as activities.
"The college students love it," Travis said. "At first they're like, ‘I have to make these hours up for class,' because it's a significant part of their grade. But then they get in it and love it. A lot of them come after their class is over and still help."
The college students are all in Jessica Ziembroski's sociology class. They must obtain 10 hours of service learning as part of their grade, Travis said.
Jonathan Velez, coordinator of the Housing Authority's Neighborhood Network, which works with the tutoring program, said the kids learn a lot from the college students.
"It's an opportunity to explore a lot of things they wouldn't be able to do at home," Velez said. "They can get on the computers, they get homework help ... It keeps them out of trouble."
He said every day is a little different, bringing as many as 30 kids to the center.
Student activities include arts and crafts, movie nights and other projects, as well as homework that helps reinforce the subjects they learn in school.
"We have great feedback," Velez said. "The parents really enjoy that we're doing it for the kids. We have parents sometimes who just come watch their kids learn."
Travis said it's an opportunity for the college students to learn from the kids and show them they can dream big. The majority of students who come out to the tutoring program have parents who work late hours in the poultry processing plants nearby.
"If you ask them what they want to do when they grow up, a lot of them say they want to work in the chicken plant," Travis said. "We want to show them they can do more than their parents did. They can go to college."