As CHCA faculty have led the charge in remote learning, you may have noticed that the Upper School’s SOS (Student Organized Service) Program has also stepped up to the challenge and found many ways to serve remotely in our community.
|SOS exists to build up student leaders who provide service opportunities for all Upper School students. While some of the service opportunities have been rescheduled, or canceled altogether due to COVID-19, many SOS groups are finding new ways to serve their peers, their community, and Greater Cincinnati in a remote capacity.|
As Upper School Outreach Coordinator Karen Hordinski began brainstorming ways to take the SOS after-school programs online, several colleagues and students suggested mentoring groups for younger CHCA students. Hordinski sent out an all-call to Upper School students and many excitedly replied. As planning commenced, the effort was named “Zoom Kids” a nod to an old PBS kids’ show and in light of the amount of “Zooming” happening with remote learning.
A few students could transfer current activities to Zoom. Junior Amelia Arthurs converted her cheer clinic for 21 children to a Zoom Cheer Clinic for CHCA Grade 1-2 students. Sophomores Isabella Li and Jessey Li reworked their WeChat reading program for children in China to a Story Time Zoom Kids for young CHCA students. “Story Time Zoom Kids is going amazing,” shares Li. “It is nice to have another way to reach out to the community when we are apart. But the fact is, we are never apart. We are always together, and I absolutely love how so many SOS volunteers like me all reached out to make our life during quarantine exponentially better.”
Senior Evan Phelps continued his Students for Soldiers efforts with Grades 4-6. Seniors Jordynn Jenkins and Rylan Saunders, previously guest speakers at Armleder Campus chapels, are now doing online devotions for all Grades 1-6.
With the goal to build school community and give students a chance to “see” each other outside of class, SOS students have found very creative ways to serve through Zoom. Sophomore Tori Behrman and freshman Lexi Achterberg have used their love of dance to teach a dance class online. “Zoom Kids is super fun,” shares Behrman. “I love getting to know some kids at our school I might not have, had I not started our group. I loved getting a new batch of kids interested and educated about dance!”
As a great soccer player and Parents Night Out SOS Leader, junior Caleb Mary gathered friends from the boys’ and girls’ soccer teams to create an online soccer clinic. Senior Lillian McNutt helps students create together online, with subjects such as scripture passages and tectonic plates and mountains. While she shared her screen using her drawing app, the students drew at home with supplies on hand.
Sophomore Kate Answini has a huge heart to serve kids and families in poverty. As part of the most recent Zoom Kids initiative, she along with friends Jenna Brooks, Ryah Gilbert, Olivia Hahn, and Mollie Wilkowski have been leading Zoom Kids Service Project to Homeless for Girls, with a desire to help the homeless in the community. CHCA Outreach Coordinator, Karen Hordinski, heard of a family who had recently moved into an apartment and needed supplies after being homeless. The girls worked together to supply the family with food, cleaning supplies, household items, and encouraging notes. Hordinski also heard of a single mom with three children at home who is expecting a baby, who needed help. Mollie and her brother Jack delivered food and activities for the kids to do in their home.
And sparked by the work the girls are doing, juniors Ian Salkil, Nathan Schramm, and sophomore Wilbur Wiggins have been leading Zoom Kids Service Project to Homeless for Boys. The two Zoom Kids “Service Project to Homeless” groups recently joined forces to organize donations for Bethany House, which empowers homeless and at-risk families with solutions to achieve housing stability and long-term self-sufficiency. Both groups wrote letters to residents in shelters and as a larger group, discussed homelessness in Cincinnati. The students also prayed and had devotions together.
Kate Answini shared “When I head about this project, I immediately knew it was something I would be interested in. I loved our theme of homelessness over this year. There are so many ways that we can easily spread love and the word of God through these projects. It also allows you to see firsthand the impact that you can make from such a small gesture. My goal was to make sure all of these lovely people knew how equally important and special they were in this world, no matter the circumstance they were in. I absolutely loved this service group and will definitely do many other projects just like it!”
Jenna Brooks added, “I think that there is something so rewarding about being able to help others. Knowing that I was able to help someone in a time of unrest is an amazing feeling. I know for a fact that those families will be blessed by what we have done and there is nothing better than that.”
“I decided to do this because I wanted to reach out to those in need during this time and hopefully add some encouragement and hope to their day and to brighten their spirits even just a little,” shared Ryah Gilbert.
And Ian Salkil shared, “I started getting involved with Shantytown my sophomore year and was lucky enough to take over running it my junior year. Shantytown opened my eyes to the amount of homelessness in our own city. I wanted to raise further awareness outside of that event, so I was extremely excited when this opportunity came up to talk and write letters with younger kids from our school. I was thankful that these kids would take time to write letters to people who needed positivity through these tough times. I was glad that we were able to give these families a small sense of happiness when they needed it the most.”
“I am incredibly inspired by the enormous hearts and hard work of these students,” shares Hordinski. “They organized and sent hundreds of dollars’ worth of donations to help out two struggling Cincinnati families. They also prayed together for the families and sent notes of encouragement with the donations. As much as they want the families to have the things they need, they equally want the families to know that God loves them and has not forgotten them.”
Junior Gianna Rodriguez shares, “Zoom Kids is going great! It feels good to be able to contribute to the community at this time. Not only are we bringing joy to others, but it’s also a wonderful way to keep yourself busy and make new friends.”
Parents of younger students who have participated in Zoom Kids shared:
“This is an excellent idea and my girls are so excited about it!
“This is AWESOME!!!”
“My daughter LOVED her time making the card for the homeless family! Thanks again for organizing this.”
“Thanks so much-my daughter wants to do it again! She even showed me some of the dance moves after the session ended.”
“THANKS for all you're doing to help us all out.”
What better way to show we are #CHCAStrong than to give back.
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