Story by Julia DiGiacomo
Despite hurdles this year, the Catherine McAuley Center’s online classes are taking off again with the help of RISE members. CMC’s tutoring program, which primarily supports immigrants and refugees, hosted its largest online orientation for new volunteers in October.
Volunteer & Outreach Manager Katie Splean says that the transition online was slow at first as the program gauged students’ interest and comfort level online. Computer skills were an initial barrier in signing up members of the immigrant & refugee community.
However, Splean says classes are picking up again recently after moving online this summer. In addition to training 20 new tutors at the October orientation, there are currently about 150 students working with about 90 volunteers.
Berryhill says her favorite part of her service is interacting with the students and tutors over Zoom and watching them laugh and have fun with each other.
“CMC's education program relies on strong, positive relationships between students, staff, and volunteers, so knowing that students and tutors are able to forge these connections even through an online format makes me very happy,” Berryhill says.
After a year of dealing with a pandemic and the derecho, Splean says tutoring can also help redirect students to other CMC resources when they are in need. By building a strong relationship and learning about students’ lives, tutors can help them find assistance.
She says students report feeling as though their tutor genuinely cares as a result.
“It just means a lot that when [clients] walk into our four walls or when they are connecting with somebody who's affiliated with us virtually, they're getting that sense of welcome like they belong here,” Splean says.