By Marnita Coleman,
Special to the AFRO
The North Avenue Learning Initiative, a program run by City of Abraham Church and Ministries (COACM) is searching for adult volunteers aged 19 and older who are willing to volunteer at least five hours a week. Volunteers can help in-person at the Walbrook branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, located at 3203 W. North Avenue, or online, but a college degree is required.
Lynn Pinder, program director of the North Avenue Learning Initiative, confided that a lot of what they have been able to accomplish over the years, though limited in funding, came as a result of different types of in-kind support from the church and the community.
“For me, an educated adult is one of the best forms of youth development that we can have,” said Pinter, adding that one educated adult can influence an entire household.
Anyone interested in volunteering is encouraged to come with a lot of patience, flexibility, open mind and open heart. Unlike the K-12 population, everything scheduled may not happen in a day’s time, and structure with adult learners can be different.
In the hour of the great resignation, when workers are walking away from jobs, the call for help must be heard above personal ambitions.
If culture is the soul of a nation, its embodiment through volunteerism speaks volumes of its spirit. In America, about 78,260,869 adults volunteer annually. And that number does not top the estimated 124 million people that helped one another during the pandemic.
Churches have traditionally stepped in to fill gaps that leave community members in need. Today, they are at the forefront of addressing a number of crises related to everything from education to voting rights.
“Here at the City of Abraham Church and Ministries, we believe in providing the needs of the whole person. Spiritual needs are our first priority, but we also believe that a good education will lead to a life well lived,” said Executive Pastor of COACM, Pam Hammack, noting that education is key to unlocking the golden door to freedom. “We need volunteers to help with tutoring our students in the areas of math, reading, history, and other subjects. We also need people with strong administrative skills to help with recruiting students and other clerical needs. Perhaps there is someone who is proficient with computers and other technology.”
“These things can help our students make the best of their GED experience. It takes teamwork to make the dream work,” said Hammack.
The ministry has a capable and dependable GED program director, but wants to stack the deck with other capable hands from the community.
A GED provides the same level of foundational education as a high school diploma. Students are well-prepared for higher levels of learning or gainful employment by government agencies and private industry. A Maryland High School Diploma is awarded to those who successfully pass the four modules of the GED tests, which are language arts (including reading and writing), mathematics, science, and social studies.
Ayesha Smothers, a 2022 graduate of the North Avenue Learning Initiate shouted cheerfully, “My diploma means a lot to me!” It is the bridge to continued education and her dream career. In the 11th grade, the teen mom stopped attending school to work and care for her kids. Now 37, Smothers is enrolled at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md. in pursuit of a degree in forensic science.
If you are wondering if the GED is still popular, wonder no more. Google reports that 21,600 Marylanders recently searched this topic.
Graduate Ra’Quan Matthews shared that when his mother told him about the GED program offered by the City of Abraham Church and Ministries, he “jumped at it, and it worked out.” The 22-year-old felt he needed a fresh start. He advises future students of the program, “to believe in themselves and never give up.”
If you are interested in volunteering with this GED ministry, please email your resume and a short paragraph explaining why adult literacy is important to you: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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