Members of Fort Bend ISD’s Junior Student Leadership Program explored leadership in Community Volunteerism during the second session of the program. With visits to the CASA House, Project SMILE/Bethel Outreach Ministries and the Fort Bend Corps, students learned about the leadership roles that are needed to orchestrate the daily operations of providing services to children and families throughout our community.
During their trip to the CASA House, the leadership class learned about the path of an abused or neglected child who enters the child welfare system, and the many services and programs that are available to children through CASA House and Child Advocates of Fort Bend. Ruthanne Mefford, Executive Director of Child Advocates of Fort Bend, and Metoyer Ellis, Program Director of CASA House, led the students in a role-play activity that revealed roles of the various volunteers who advocate on behalf of abused and neglected children. Mefford reminded students that more than likely they know someone who has received services from CASA House.
Following the CASA House tour, the leadership class traveled to Bethel Outreach Ministries to meet with Carolyn Tarver, Founder of Project SMILE and Becky Torres, Director of Mission Outreach. Tarver explained how Project SMILE originated following the loss of her son, Stan, and how the program works in conjunction with Bethel Outreach Ministries to provide gifts, food items and educational services to thousands of children each year. Tarver also encouraged students to consider volunteering at the facility.
The final trip of the day was to Fort Bend Corps to visit with Brandy Leonhardt, Fiscal and Program Director. Leonhardt shared with students the mission and vision of the organization and details regarding the various programs offered to families that need assistance, such as Hearts & Hammers and Neighborhood Cleanup.
“I think the students benefited tremendously from this session on volunteerism,” said Marilyn Glover, FBISD Board Vice President. “A lot of times, many children don’t get the opportunity to travel outside of the area in which they live, which makes them unaware of a lot of issues that are very prevalent in our community. This session gave students the opportunity to truly see the other side of how many people live and learn about many of the issues that people face.”
Following their field trip, the leadership class took part in a Strengths Finder session, led by Yolanda Young, Coordinator in FBISD’s Organizational Development Department. Young’s role in the Junior Leadership Program is to help students identify and build on their natural talents or strengths.
Lynda Ruther, program facilitator, concluded the session by inviting students to share “hot topics” taking place at their school or in their community, and sharing information they know about the Fort Bend ISD.