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By Julia Lyons '08
LEWISBURG, Pa. - The Bucknell Buddies program is a community-service project, but for the volunteers, it's more than that.
The Bucknell students who participate in the weekly tutoring program have exceeded their goal of simply helping their elementary students with schoolwork. Many of the 175 volunteers form strong and long-lasting relationships with their students.
Started three years ago through the AmeriCorps-VISTA at Bucknell, the number of tutors in the program has skyrocketed, according to Danny Greenawalt, the VISTA representative in charge of the Bucknell Buddies program.
Greenawalt coordinates student volunteer visits to Kelly Elementary and Linntown Intermediate schools four times a week where they tutor elementary students for an hour each session in math or language arts.
"The one-on-one attention has been amazing for the kids," said Greenawalt. "Many of the students who are enrolled in the program aren't getting the supplementary help they need at home. This program has been very helpful for them."
Over the course of the 12-week semester, the buddies get to know each other and a tutoring a relationship forms. "We have plenty of tutors who are working with the same buddy as last semester," said Greenawalt.
Nicholas Sotak '07, who has been a Bucknell Buddy tutor for three semesters, said he's gained life-long skills through the volunteer program.
"The program is about doing a lot more than just providing some service hours," he said. "Working with the kids poses a type of challenge that is hard to mimic in normal university classes, but is essential for anyone thinking of working with people one day to master. The skills gained through thoughtful participation in the program will stick with me for a long time."
The program is part of the Pennsylvania Campus Compact VISTA, which supports colleges and universities in Pennsylvania by creating community service opportunities in their local areas. Among the 28 Pennsylvania Compact VISTAs, Bucknell Buddies is the largest tutoring program.
And it's no surprise why so many tutors participate in this program.
"I don't mind taking time out of my day to help these kids. We give them motivation, and they love having an older 'buddy' meet with them each week," said tutor Jessica Wilkinson '09.
Margaret Hartman '09 said she enjoys the "opportunity to get out into the community" and Brynn Moragne '09 noted that the kids are "really benefiting from the extra help."
For second grader Kalah R., it's a simple equation: "I just love my Bucknell Buddy."
Posted April 26, 2006