UUFP—Past/Present/Future: “Tutoring”

“UUFP—Past/Present/Future”
is a collection of stories
about UUFP’s formative years and
its ensuing perseverance in purpose, mission and ministry.
Grow in Wonder – Connect in Love – Engage in Service – Inspire Generosity

The boy stood at our front door on this Thursday, after school. He had come alone, on the bus from East End, Newport News, having heard about the Unitarian Universalists who offered tutoring with literacy, numeracy, and SAT prep. He hesitated, unsure. But he had come this far. And the entryway looked so inviting with tall glass windows, a rainbow flag, and a pretty image of a flaming chalice in two circles.

From inside, our lead volunteer, Courtney, a CNU Junior, seeing the middle schooler hovering at the portal, opens the doors wide, and calling out happily, invites the boy inside.

“Hello! Hello! Welcome to our After School Learning Space! We are so glad to see you! What’s your name?”

“Rajid,” whispers the boy.

Usually, children ages 8 – 17 would sign up through their schools, through the Boys and Girls Club, and through other religious organizations. We, in our new and ample space with many rooms for Children’s RE, are able to lead small class discussions and focused tutoring.  Our Yellow Room holds elementary students working on reading, led by our partners, Christopher Newport University students in ongoing collaboration with Peninsula Reads. In the Blue room, students explore conventions of academic writing for school success. Elsewhere, students absorb strategies for the SAT, and our UUFP scientists tutor secondary students on numeracy. We at UUFP listen to community requests and build resources in response.

Our volunteer, Courtney asks, “What brings you? How can we help? How old are you?” Rajid replies, “Reading is still hard. I want to do better. My friend Jen told me, so I came…And I’m 13.”

Courtney knows right away. “Come with me! I know just the place.”

And so, moving through wide halls, with encouraging sayings on banners, Courtney brings Rajid to The Green Room, “Team 2: Reading Strategies for Middle Schoolers.” As she opens the door, soft background music now filling the air,  the literacy volunteer looks up, as do three other middle schoolers, fingers still on the printed page, saving their places.

“Hey Jen!” Rajid exclaimed.  “It’s you!” His friend welcomes him in, and the others at the table move over, opening up a place, sharing their materials all around.

And so, in our new ample, church home, we work the paths of Social Justice as we live our values and vision—to affirm the worth, dignity and opportunity for each person—in our local, interconnected web.

May it be so.

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