The after-school program at Community of Hope’s Girard Street Apartments is central to the health and well-being of the children who call Girard Street home. Five days a week, up to 25 school-age children have a safe place to study and play after their school day, thanks to Ellen Zaander. Along with their standard academic fare of homework help and tutoring, the kids participate in such diverse activities as gardening classes through City Blossoms, art projects with Project Create, and nutrition classes through DC Central Kitchen.
Staff, volunteers, children, and parents at Community of Hope all rave about Ellen’s helpfulness, focus, dedication and all-around cheerful attitude. One mom, who lives with her two children at Girard Street, said, “Ellen’s great at helping out; she helped find a tutor for my children. She gets your needs taken care of. She’s caring, responsible, and takes the initiative.”
Ellen is a full time Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC) volunteer, and receives a stipend that covers her basic living expenses. In return, Community of Hope gets a dedicated staff person it otherwise couldn’t afford. In addition to the after-school program, Ellen runs Girard Street’s brand new recycling program, helped implement a swine flu contingency plan, and helps with emergency preparedness operations.
When asked why she chose to volunteer at Community of Hope, Ellen commented, “It seemed like a really unique organization. Community of Hope does a lot of things with lots of different aspects of poverty and homelessness and that really interests me. It’s not like I’m working just at a homeless shelter. It’s also a homeless shelter that’s associated with a clinic that deals with poverty in another way. And that’s also associated with long-term housing solutions.” We’re glad to have her on board!
Click on the MP3 file below to listen to Ellen talk about her experiences at Community of Hope.