Florida United Methodist Women Unit Receives Award for Tutoring Program
by YVETTE MOORE*
Public school children in Palm Coast, Fla., are shining brighter academically because of a tutoring and mentoring program coordinated by United Methodist Women at Palm Coast United Methodist Church. The program received a Points of Light Foundation "Daily Point of Light" award in April.
A Daily Point of Light award is given to an individual or volunteer group once a week. The Points of Light Foundation and Volunteer Center National Network work together to advocate for community service and to engage volunteers and resources in local communities to address social issues. The Washington, D.C.-based organization honored the United Methodist Women unit at Palm Coast United Methodist Church for its four-year-old effort to help children at Bunnell Elementary School in Palm Coast pass mandatory state reading and math tests.
"It's mentoring, as well as instructing children one on one," said Osceloa Brazley, mission coordinator for social action for the unit. We sit down and go over work with the children. Sometimes we get materials from the teachers. Sometimes the children read to us. Sometimes we read to them. It's according to what they need."
The need was great when the program began, Ms. Brazley said. Many of the second to fifth graders the volunteers worked with couldn't read, she said. Individual attention makes a difference for the children. The program's 21 volunteers are in the school Monday through Thursday to mentor and tutor children in reading and, as of 2006, math.
"The school came from having one of the lowest test scores to one of the highest," Ms. Brazley said.
About 10 United Methodist Women members work in the school as volunteers, but the entire unit supports the effort. When Ms. Brazley was interviewed for this article, she was headed out the door for the school after a morning shopping trip to buy a rocking chair, the unit's latest gift to the program.
"We needed a reading chair," she said.