Neighbors Project afterschool tutors work extra hours

Volunteering 600 hours to community service in one year may not fit into everyone’s schedule, but for Samiya Mohiuddin it works out well.

As the site coordinator for the New Community Afterschool Program, Mohiuddin works with a group of volunteer coordinators to tutor kindergarten through 10th graders in the Shaw community every week.

As the site coordinator, Mohiuddin oversees tutors and gives student assessment tests.

I wanted to help out students and make them feel good about themselves, Mohiuddin said. Later in life they can be empowered by the ideas that someone has changed their life.

Mohiuddin said tutoring is a positive experience for the students and the tutors.

It shows the students that they don’t have to stay stagnant, she said. They can move on, progress and conquer the world.

Mohiuddin said the program began three years ago when Pastor Jim Dickerson saw a problem with violence and drug trafficking in the Shaw community.

He bought a historical hotel in the Shaw neighborhood where popular jazz musicians Duke Ellington and Miles Davis often stayed when they performed at the Lincoln Theater and converted it into a church. The New Community Church functions as the tutoring site.

The New Community Afterschool Program became incorporated in the GW Neighbors Project, a group that works to improve the Shaw community. Along with GW students, several health professionals also tutor at the church, Mohiuddin said.

Junior Marie Garnier began volunteering this year when she found out that she could tutor without being part of GW’s work-study program. Garnier said she enjoys volunteering once a week because she feels her student improves every time she sees her.

The students are there because they really want to learn, Garnier said.

Although volunteering requires a sizable time commitment, Garnier said time is the most valuable thing she has to offer.

It’s not like giving them a handout, you are actually teaching them skills, she said.

Marnier said the tutors are very important to the students because many of them do not get one-on-one attention at school or at home.

If they are not getting individual attention, then they don’t know their abilities and they can get frustrated, she said.

Marnier also said she enjoys being a role model.

It is nice for them to have a relationship with someone older who is not in an authoritative position.

Marnier said the students she works with look up to tutors and ask about college life. She said they want to go to college more once they are exposed to students who have made the step to higher education.

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