When you first arrive at UALC, the location for the Family ESL program at SON Ministries, you see all of the children lining up getting ready to go into the gym. A minute before start time, at about 5:59 pm, one of the green shirt workers lets the children into the gym. All of the volunteers are setting up and getting ready for the doors to open. As soon as the doors open and you see all of those happy faces you know it’s going to be a fun night. Everyone runs into the gym to their preferred area. I personally choose to go to the 9 square where a lot of children choose to go. Everyone is in the gym or craft area for about 30 minutes. We then move to snack time. The children come into snack time one grade level at a time and find their preferred seat and begin to eat the generously donated snacks. At this point some of the teen interns will go up to the table and grab either the milk jugs or a pitcher of water. I always choose the water pitcher. A lot of the children now have started to call me “Waterboy” because I have been giving out water for about 2 years now. The name has stuck and I am called “Waterboy” no matter what the setting is now. I could be at school, at church, it doesn’t matter whenever I see one of the children from this organization that’s my name! I love it. It’s fun to see how my relationships have evolved with some of these children.
After snack we move into academic support which lasts about 30 minutes. Children that have homework from their day at school will bring it and get help if they don’t understand it. If the children don’t have homework they get the opportunity to read books as a group based on their grade level. This is the highlight of my night! I usually help the kindergarten reading group. I love seeing the children improve from week to week and actually get excited to read and learn new things as they discover their love for reading. It truly makes me feel good inside knowing that I’m doing something good for others and showing them how important it is to read. After academic time we move into free play. During this time there is usually a fun game or activity that the leaders have planned. I have never had a night where all of the children didn’t enjoy playing these games whether it’s Mario Kart, balloon tag or wrapping kids in toilet paper to make mummies. There are also plenty of different crafts going on during this time if you’re not feeling up to the game.
As the evening comes to an end, at about 8:30 pm, parents will start to pick up their children and leave. These children are extremely special in all different areas and I truly enjoy spending each Tuesday and Thursday with them. There are some extremely talented children in this program and I can tell they will have a bright future ahead of them. They each have a special place in my heart and I love seeing them grow up before my own eyes. Everyone at SON Ministries is extremely nice and welcoming, I highly suggest coming and helping out if you’re looking to serve your community!