During times of crisis, theart of giving is accentuated by individuals who go to great lengths to serve the community:volunteers. Although the giving of time during a pandemic can have its challenges, it can also help define who we are.
Each year, Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) recognizes school volunteers who have gone above and beyond to lend their time and talents to our schools. This year’s nominees did not let COVID-19 stand in their way!During the pandemic, they adjusted and navigated through CDC safety guidelines to continue to serve our students and schools. Many volunteered more than 150 hours throughout the year to provide support in activities including, tutoring students virtually; coordinating fundraising and staff morale events; mentoring students through the arts; and by simply being a positive presence at the school to support teachers,students, and parents.
Nicole Torres is our Outstanding School Volunteer winner in the student category.A student at School for Advanced Studies -Wolfson Campus, Nicole saw the need for a peer tutoring mechanism during the COVID-19 pandemic. The peer-to-peer tutoring platform she created, “Learn to Express,” encourages expression, promotes relationship building, and is an outlet for fostering student creativity. As a result, student volunteers have collectively logged over 2,400 hours of peer-to-peer support, and most importantly, gained a deeper appreciation for teaching and learning.
As the PTA President at Ruth K. Broad/Bay Harbor K-8 Center, Sol Colom is our Outstanding School Volunteer winner in the adult category. She is the force behind many classroom programs and school beautification projects. She also managed the school’s uniform and supply store; coordinated fundraising activities for the purchase of devices and athletic equipment; all in all,devoting more than 300 volunteer hours of service. Ms. Colom’s warm personality and work ethic motivates other parents to become involved as volunteers.
Mercy Collazo is a nurturer to all at G. Holmes Braddock Senior High and is the Outstanding School Volunteer winner for the senior category. Giving more than 125 volunteer hours of service, she works diligently to make Braddock SHS the cornerstone of her community. She never says no when it is in her capacity to help. A great listener and advisor, she supports the academic needs of all Braddock SHS students.
In years prior to the pandemic, thousands of M-DCPS volunteers shared their time and talents to enrich, influence and inspire students. These school volunteers supported teachers, advocated for students, and facilitated a myriad of school events. So how do we rebuild this invaluable asset?
One example is the Sigma Alpha Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, whichis taking the lead in building confidence in the community so we can return to a sense of normalcy. In partnership with City of Miami Gardens,these community advocates serve as volunteers and mentors. Recently, they came out by the dozens to get vaccinated at the Jessie Trice Community Health Center.“People have to be educated on the impact that vaccinations have in the community, in returning back to normal,” said City of Miami Gardens Vice Mayor Reggie Leon.
Paul V. Wilson, a mentor with the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, who also received his vaccination that day explained, “I want to inspire other mentors. Our boys have faced emotional hardships and the need for them to engage, be guided, and listened to in person by active malerole models, is greater than ever.”
Although virtual platforms have provided an additional means to connect, nothing replaces the face-to-face engagement in facilitating strong relationships between caring community members and our students. We commend our school volunteers for their continuous efforts to serve, and we are looking forward to seeing more of them in-person next year.