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Volunteer Tutors are Vital

From transportation to food service to mentoring, those who donate their time to UMFS allow us to better serve high-risk children and families. Volunteers are vital to our mission as unwavering champions, and volunteer tutors are especially crucial to the success of our students.

Lisa Nicoll, UMFS Volunteer Manager, said there is a critical need for volunteer tutors at the Charterhouse School in Richmond. Tutors sometimes are the missing link between a student passing SOLs and ultimately graduating, she said.

“Our volunteer tutors have one of the toughest jobs. Not only are we asking for them to be in relationship with our kids, but to also try and create a relationship that is comfortable enough for kids to take risks and show vulnerability around their education.”

Melinda Winterhalter has been a volunteer tutor at UMFS since 2016 and said the challenges Lisa spoke of were evident early on. Her first few students were hard to engage and sometimes skipped sessions.

“I wanted to be someone consistent,” Melinda said. “I wanted them know that people do care for them.”

So despite the push back, she remained steadfast in her commitment and has been rewarded for her patience.

“I have seen some of them grow and let barriers down by being in the environment that UMFS provides,” she said, adding that she’s forged strong relationships with some of the students.

“I really love to help people. And I believe that God has placed me in a position where He provides the time and resources for me to help others.”

Melinda’s personal experiences are, in part, what inspired her involvement with UMFS.

“I had seasons of a difficult childhood where I was suddenly removed from my home,” she said. “So I felt like I had a bit of knowledge about what they may be feeling and going through.”

But personal experience certainly isn’t a prerequisite. UMFS welcomes all who might be interested in volunteering and provides thorough training, Lisa said.

“We prepare volunteers for this challenge and encourage them to stick out this journey with our kids,” she said. “We are so grateful for having tutors who relentlessly pursue solutions and are willing to join our student’s educational journey.”

Visit us online to learn more about volunteer opportunities, or contact Volunteer Manager Lisa Nicoll directly at lnicoll@umfs.org or 804.353.4461, ext. 1138.

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