Career Center provides students with opportunities to give back to community from home

Only+one+call+away+--+Junior+Saathvika+Diviti+speaks+with+a+Farmington+senior+citizen+over+the+phone.+Diviti+and+other+students+are+able+to+volunteer+and+support+members+of+the+community+during+the+COVID-19+pandemic.+

Saathvika Diviti

Only one call away -- Junior Saathvika Diviti speaks with a Farmington senior citizen over the phone. Diviti and other students are able to volunteer and support members of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sydney Bigelow, Copy & Design Chief

The Career Center has offered various ways to volunteer while quarantined and help those struggling the most during these difficult times. Students can give their time and their help to assist the elderly, younger students, and healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With all sports, clubs, and activities closed due to the pandemic, volunteering can keep students engaged while stuck at home. Helping the community not only helps those in need, it is beneficial to those who are giving back with their time and effort. 

Organized by the Career Center’s Coordinator of Extended Learning Opportunities Steve Netcoh, the Career Center notified students of the volunteering opportunities using social media. Interested students were directed to either visit the Career Center website or to email Netcoh at [email protected].  

“We wanted to try our best to replicate the in-person programming the Career Center typically offers in a virtual format and hope valuable learning will happen while students are engaged with these volunteer opportunities,” Netcoh said. 

While staying home, high school students are able to help elementary and middle school students via a computer call. These tutors are assigned a younger student to call on a weekly basis in order to help them with their online school work. Tutoring includes reading together, solving math problems, and overall supporting the younger student. 

“ I think one on one tutoring is important for younger students because they are used to that guided instruction received in the classroom on a daily basis, so I can give the students more intimate feedback on assignments like they would in school when I am working with them in a tutoring session,” sophomore Jessica DiTommaso said.

Currently, the Career Center is arranging these meetings between students attending Union School, West Woods Upper Elementary School, and Irving A. Robbins Middle School, all located in Farmington. In the upcoming weeks, tutors will also be working with students attending Vance Village Elementary School in New Britain. Farmington students have worked with elementary schoolers from Vance Village in the past. 

“ I hope to gain experience with instruction through tutoring to explore a possibility of a teaching career. It’s also great to work one on one with students, it definitely makes me feel happy when they are excited to learn and improve themselves,” DiTommaso said. 

Quarantine and social distancing has been hard on everyone, but it can be particularly difficult for the elderly, especially those who may be living alone. Through the Career Center, student volunteers are assigned to make phone calls to one or two senior citizens in Farmington or other local towns. 

Although it is not quite the same as an in-person conversation, these phone calls can lift the spirits of both the youth and the elderly as they connect with each other throughout the weeks discussing health, television shows, and other parts of life in quarantine. Additionally, students make sure that if a senior citizen is in need of food, medicine, or anything else, someone is notified and able to help. 

“It was such an enriching experience to have a conversation with a senior. It really helped me feel like I was making a positive impact. My senior citizen has been benefitting because she mentioned that it often gets really lonely. She enjoys having someone to talk to and these phone calls have really helped to make her day,” junior Saathvika Diviti said. 

As doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers around the world fight the Covid-19 virus, they are in need of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves, and they rely on the donations of others to help with the shortages of these materials.

Inspired by art teacher Katrina McKinney’s fashion students and thousands of other crafty people in different communities, the Career Center has encouraged students to make masks for healthcare workers and others in need. It is also encouraged that students and families donate extra PPE that they are not using. 

An artistic opportunity, students are able to create artwork to share with patients in rehabilitation centers. By submitting their artwork, students create a positive environment for those in rehab, improving their mood and aiding their recovery process. 

For those who frequently incorporated volunteering into their life before the quarantine, these virtual volunteer opportunities can help to maintain a normal schedule and allow them to continue to experience the benefits of giving back to the community. For those who may not have considered volunteering in the past, this time of isolation is a great time to start and to give back to the community when it is hurting most, while also uplifting your own spirits. 

The Career Center is always looking for new ways to help students and the community, and would be welcome to hearing ideas for new volunteer opportunities. Hopefully, virtual volunteering will expand and continue to help others stay healthy and well during the COVID-19 pandemic.