Students tutor at Church of the Covenant

On a chilly Saturday morning, eager students rushed into the basement at the Church of the Covenant. Cars filled up the parking lot as parents dropped off their children, ranging from elementary to high school students. They were all here for the Saturday Tutoring Program, which offers free tutoring to students in grades one to 12.

Monique Simmons is a first-year at Euclid High School. Her progress sheet showed that she had been working on algebra with her previous tutors. As her tutor this week, I was expecting to pick up where she had left off, but Monique had brought a different subject to study. She had been struggling with biology, especially with cellular respiration and photosynthesis. There was a biology test coming up the following week and she needed help going over the chapter.

After pouring over the steps involved in cellular respiration, we talked about her classes, school and friends. Monique, who said her best subject is math, told me that while biology is challenging, she felt confident and prepared for the upcoming test. I was relieved, knowing that even in the short hour-and-a-half, I could connect with her as a tutor and mentor.

Saturday tutoring was one of the 42 projects offered for Saturday of Service on Nov. 4. The Case Western Reserve University Center for Civic Engagement and Learning (CCEL) partnered with Greek Life, the Office of Community Relations and Kids Against Hunger to arrange on-campus and off-campus volunteering opportunities.

Open to students, staff and faculty members, Saturday of Service has around 400 people participate each year. Adrian Griffin, assistant director of CCEL, noted that there is a greater involvement than seen in the numbers.

“In addition to the spots available online [as listed on CCEL OrgSync], we have several student groups—either student service organizations or Greek chapters—that adopt a project to do together as a group,” Griffin said. “So even beyond what you see online, there are about 20 groups that are adopting projects this year.”

Elizabeth Banks, director of CCEL, said the idea behind Saturday of Service was to get as many students involved in service around Cleveland, with their busy schedules in mind.

“We knew a lot of students wanted to get involved with community service, but didn’t have a large amount of time,” Banks said.

In its eleventh year, Saturday of Service offers one-day projects that allow students to get together and participate, according to Banks.

She emphasized that it’s easy to get involved with service in the CWRU community, saying that CCEL provides the site, transportation and a site leader.

Griffin added that the day of service provides multiple opportunities for students “in hopes that this will be a spark and will encourage students to stay involved… Once they see how easy and impactful it is to be participating in the community.”

Zachary Reinhold, who led the service site for Kids Against Hunger, reflected on his service as beneficial to “not only the people who would be receiving the lunches, but also [to] those who were making it.”

He observed that many of the volunteers could meet new people and bond through volunteering. Reinhold also noted that he could “clearly see how accomplished and proud everyone felt by the end,” after packing around 450 lunches for impoverished children and their families.

Noting that he will continue to volunteer beyond Saturday of Service, Reinhold hoped that more people will take the opportunity to participate next semester.