Family resource centers effect positive change among the communities they serve. As one young mother stated, "Before we got the center started, this was a terrible place to live" (OCFRC website). Family resource centers offer a variety of programs to help neighborhoods and their residents. The Afterschool Program is a popular resource for children and their parents alike. Elementary school children go to the center after school via the school bus and they spend two hours, from 3p.m.-5p.m. They complete their homework during the first hour and make crafts during the second hour. The kids receive homework help from the volunteers and the parents receive free child-care.
For the majority of the time, the kids enjoy the Afterschool Program; they get to see their friends, get help on their homework, eat a nice snack, and make cool crafts (see Interviews). As fun as working on homework right after leaving school sounds, these children have an incentive to work-the volunteers who work with them! Most of the volunteers are college students, with the exception of Ms. Kathy Glosson who leads the program. Though she might seem a bit strict, the discipline Ms. Kathy administers to her after-school kids keeps them focused and successful; if they don't do their homework right the first time, they have to go back and correct their mistakes. They pout and they whine, but the kids don't realize how much Ms. Kathy does for their academic success. Developing academic habits at an early age increases the children's chances of success in school throughout their educational career. Some of these habits include working in a quiet environment and receiving homework help only if necessary--and Ms. Kathy judges what's necessary. Her homework rules also encourage positive mindsets when faced with academic challenges. For example, one of Ms. Kathy's homework rules is that if the kids say "I can't" as in "I can't do this math problem", they don't get any homework help. Not only does this leave the kids with one less excuse for not completing their work, the rule eliminating the word "can't" from the kids' vocabularies encourages them to succeed in other areas. In Afterschool, surrendering their efforts to the tired phrase of "I can't" causes the kids to lose their tutoring privileges-in life, allowing the words "I can't" rule their work ethic, their lives won't add up to much of anything.
Getting help from a volunteer is practically every Afterschool kids' goal. College students make up the majority of the volunteer force at the Afterschool program, and the kids love our attention. As soon as we walk through the door of the center, the kids start calling out for help, testifying to Ms. Kathy (the Afterschool program supervisor) that their homework is the hardest and they need the most help. Of course, many times they don't need help at all; they just want attention from the college students whom they seldom see and always wish to impress, either with their crazy antics or superior knowledge. Many times when I have been helping a younger student, the other kids (who don't have a tutor at their side) would scoff at the girl's homework because it's "so easy" and their homework is "so much harder." These battles between the kids can be unproductive, but they're easily managed-usually Ms. Kathy warns the kids, "It's too loud in there", and everyone settles down to their own work again. But the reason the superiority battles ensue in the first place shows just how important the tutoring program is to the kids, not just because of the academic support it provides. The attention they receive from us college students can be very beneficial. The kids complete their homework correctly, and they interact with us who have different lifestyles than those in their neighborhoods. They see older people who are their friends and appreciate them for who they are. The first day I met Khalil, a first grade boy, I helped him with his math homework; counting boxes and coloring in the right numbers was bonding experience for us because later, little Khalil who I had met less than an hour before gave me a hug! All kids need supportive friends, and they can find quite a few among the Afterschool volunteers.