We are thankful for our amazing volunteers, and today we want to highlight one of these dedicated individuals. Since joining SHIM’s volunteer team in 2013, Germaine has donated more than 800 hours! This is only a portion of the time that Germaine spends giving back to her community, as she volunteers through her church as well.
After retiring from her engineering job in Virginia, Germaine returned to her hometown, Baldwin. She wanted to find fulfilling activities, and her church referred her to SHIM. She started helping by stocking our pantries.
As Germaine got to know our programs, she recognized her potential to meaningfully contribute to our youth programs as well. Despite her engineering background, she had always wanted to teach and had experience teaching Sunday School. She brought her teaching skills to our After School program and now helps our 4th and 5th graders with their homework. Germaine likes to challenge her students, so she comes up with extra enriching activities for students who complete their homework quickly. Due to pandemic-related learning losses, Germaine has noticed a significant decrease in the number of students who can complete their homework without requiring assistance.
Many of the students we serve come from foreign-born families, and Germaine noticed that word problems were particularly difficult for some. Because they have less practice with the English language, they struggle to understand what the problems are asking. Germaine can identify words that students don’t understand, helping them to solve each problem.
Germaine is extremely generous with her time. Despite volunteering several days per week at After School and helping to stock our pantries, she wishes she could do even more. Outside of SHIM, she teaches 2nd graders at her church, and recently volunteered to fill a possible gap in classes. Germaine also volunteers with a local program that provides food to children who are otherwise facing food insecurity on weekends when they aren’t receiving school meals.
When asked what motivates her to volunteer so much, she says “It’s how I was raised. I’m not married, and I like spending time with family, but everyone has their own thing, and mine is giving back.”
Not surprisingly, Germaine was inspired by several teachers who gave her tools to both learn and teach. In grade school her teacher Sister Archangela created a welcoming environment that encouraged students to share their knowledge and work together. Since Sister Archangela had the same students all day, she was able to delve deep into subject matter and give students the opportunity to solve one problem at a time. Later, Sister Annella helped instill Germaine’s love of math in her physics classroom.
Germaine formed friendships with other teachers at SHIM’s After School program and encourages others to join her in volunteering. Germaine’s impact will be felt for years to come, as she nurtures students and empowers them on their learning journey. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and we’re grateful that she’s part of our team of neighbors helping neighbors!