Teenagers become leaders at the Hodge Center
The Hodge Center’s drop in after-school program – a partnership between Family of Woodstock, Inc. and Kingston Parks and Recreation – is a safe and accessible place for children and teens to go to every day. Most youth walk to the program, since it is located within the Midtown community. One of the greatest strengths of the after school program is the commitment of our teen volunteers. When Megan Weiss-Rowe, co-director of the program, requested that a former summer intern, Natasha (17), help out during the school year, Natasha didn’t ask “Do I have to?” or “Am I going to get paid?” The only question she asked was, “Do you need more volunteers?” Two days later, Megan was leading a volunteer orientation with 15 local teenagers.
When asked why these young people were willing to help out, here’s what some of them had to say:
“Because I grew up going here. I get it. I know what they’re going through. I want to help other kids, just like when people helped me”- Leither M.
“Because I want to get a job and this will help me build a resume and become a better employee”- Nyjea G.
“There’s not much for me and my friends to do- so this is something fun to do after school” Nitez B.
“My siblings go here. I should help watch out for them.” Shanae
At the Hodge Center, youth are encouraged to learn and grow through interactive activities. Teens are often leaders in clubs and projects at the Center. On any given day, you can see Natasha helping to teach students cooking skills in our weekly cooking club. Ahjonaye is often helping younger children with their homework assignments. Nile helps to supervise children on our monthly field trips. Tyshon can be seen running basketball drills, teaching our youngest players about teamwork.
We are proud of the teens who volunteer their time every week at this after school program. It is because of their energy, dedication and connections in the community that we have been able to maintain a successful program!