Facing the Truth

Stephanie - 48230, Michigan
Entered on March 19, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

When I was first told I would have to do volunteer work in the inner-city of Detroit, I was almost immediately disinterested. Working in a sketchy area with young, underprivileged girls did not sound pleasing to me. I decided to take a chance just to see if I would like it. The day my tutoring group and I arrived at Alternatives for Girls; we received a tour of the new building. It was beautiful, but that still didn’t change my mind about having to color and do multiplication facts with elementary school girls. Exploring the entire building, including the area where they shelter women who had been victims of rape and who sold themselves in order to make money to support themselves, I was overwhelmed. As we walked past these rooms, I felt a pang of guilt. Realizing that by giving these young girls an opportunity to learn something, I could be making a huge difference in their lives which could be the difference between ending up like those women or being successful later in their life.

We arrived in the room where we would be tutoring the girls and waited for them to arrive. In a fashion similar to herding sheep, the girls filed in promptly at 4:00. They were a mix of races, mostly African American with some Latinos and whites. The first activity we would do would be helping the girls with any homework they had. Some girls didn’t have any homework and that would be the time where we would work on math skills with them or quiz them for their next test they may have. The second hour would be a fun activity, either coloring or doing some kind of craft that we would come up with.

I would go to AFG once, sometimes twice a month, and every time I went it seemed to get better. I started to form bonds with some of the girls and I found that working with them was fun and they loved to look up to us. We started working when we were in 8th grade, and I worked through 9th grade faithfully, every month, but by the time I hit my sophomore year in high school, my life was more hectic and I couldn’t go as much. School was getting more difficult and I was involved with my school’s choir. That year, I only went to AFG twice out of the whole year and by then, I hated going because none of the girls remembered me and it was harder to have those bonds that I had made two years ago because my friends who had been going every month had them and I didn’t because I never could go.

The only aspect I regret about tutoring at AFG is the fact that I never was able to go as often, and that I couldn’t keep the bonds with the girls that I knew for two years straight. Despite my lack of personal relationships, I am so glad that I was able to push myself to work in an area where I wasn’t necessarily comfortable and actually like it. It wasn’t my favorite activity, but I can honestly say that I enjoyed helping less fortunate girls in making their lives and futures brighter.