After two dozen employees from the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support found themselves away from their desks and instead sitting in a library filled with inspirational quotes, children’s artwork and elementary school literature, they knew it was time to change their mindset.
They were participating in the first session of the Project Government and Industry Volunteers for Education tutoring program that took place Oct. 15, and they were there to help Benjamin Franklin Elementary School third grade students in reading and math.
“The purpose of the program is to help third graders through one-on-one tutoring,” Ryan McLeod, the DLA Troop Support Project G.I.V.E. coordinator, said. “It helps the students because they get one-on-one time [from volunteers], which is hard for teachers to provide in classes with 25 to 30 students. The students can ask questions, and that lets tutors try to help the students on concepts they may not understand.”
Project G.I.V.E. is a volunteer community outreach program where employees spend one hour every other week tutoring students during the school year. The 2019-2020 program has 27 students participating.
The program is designed to not only help students learn, but also serve as a mentorship opportunity and a positive influence on the community.
“This program shows DLA Troop Support’s commitment to our community not just in words, but deeds as well,” McLeod said. “Project G.I.V.E. increases the students’ test scores, but it also allows the employees to make a difference for the students. It isn’t just a tutoring program, but allows for mentorship and being a part of the students’ lives.”
Dating back to its legacy organizations, DLA Troop Support has been participating in Project G.I.V.E. for 47 years now, and is the organization’s longest-running community relations program.
Monique Porter, a DLA Troop Support Project G.I.V.E. tutor, says she is in her fourth year of tutoring and continues to participate because she enjoys helping the students and watching their progression.
Crystal Robinson, a DLA Troop Support Project G.I.V.E. tutor, said she has participated in the program for more than 20 years after experiencing the program firsthand as a student.
“When I had to repeat second grade because of the death of my mother, the mentor that was assigned to me really helped me and my grandmother get me on the right track with my school work,” Robinson explained. “I promised my grandmother that I will always reach out and help the children since someone took the time to help me.”
Robinson also echoed Porter’s sentiments, adding that when the tutors come together to help the students “it becomes powerful and long-lasting, and this is why Project G.I.V.E. is still prospering.”
Christy Harman, a Benjamin Franklin Elementary School teacher, appreciates the time tutors take with the students, making learning enjoyable for the students and serving as an asset for the educators.
“[The students] love going [to Project G.I.V.E.] and working with the tutors, so much that they don't even realize that they are in need of extra support,” Harman said. “The tutors help the students become better students, academically, as well as just becoming better children overall. We are thankful that the tutors give their own time up to help the students in the community…it lets me know that there are still caring, loving people out there!”
With the success of the program, Project G.I.V.E. volunteers see the start of each school year as a new chance to make a difference.
“I’m thankful that DLA Troop Support gives us an opportunity to make a positive difference in young people’s lives,” McLeod said. “It has been my experience that most of the students want to learn and want to be able to excel in their academics. We have seen so many success stories over the years and teachers telling us how much Project G.I.V.E. has helped…I know without a doubt that we are making a difference in their lives.”
Project G.I.V.E. is always accepting new volunteers. To participate, volunteers need Pennsylvania criminal and child abuse clearances, and a FBI finger print clearance is required for those who lived outside Pennsylvania at any time in the past ten years.
Contact Ryan McLeod for more information on becoming a volunteer at 215-737-4849.