In 1994, Beachwood’s school system redefined their mission statement to “develop intellectual entrepreneurs with a social conscience” and selected core values that would lead their students to contribute to society and their community. Created by the school’s guidance counselor, Sue Yuratovac, the focus of Hilltop Kids Care Club was on fostering education and preparing these graduating elementary schools students for a lifetime of volunteerism and commitment to their community.
On a rotating basis throughout the school year, the sixth grade students give up recess and lunch time with their school friends to become teachers’ aides at Fairmount School. They interact with preschool and kindergarten students through reading, assisting with art projects practicing cursive writing, eating lunch and socializing in small groups. These students travel to the Greens of Lyndhurst, a senior facility, where they are paired with the residents to eat lunch, work on arts and crafts projects, learn about the older generations’ lives and become surrogate grandchildren to individuals who feel good about the future being in the hands of these community-minded young men and women. Students deliver vital meals to frail, elderly individuals for Jewish Family Service Association and feel proud that they are helping these recipients remain independent in their homes. The students travel to the Heights Emergency Food Center, where they take canned goods and bulk items and separate them into smaller amounts for immediate disbursement for waiting customers. The students also volunteer their time at school creating fleece hats for children at Euclid Park Elementary School and Metro Hospital., items that are gratefully received and happily worn throughout the cold Cleveland months.
Students who are apprehensive about giving up their recess and lunch time with their friends believe that volunteering is hard work until they actually begin each project. Withdrawn students become confident, gregarious students learn proper protocol, and special needs students that are deaf and/or developmentally disabled are the most giving and loving as volunteers. After each project is completed, the students always declare that their leadership helps keep their communities thriving and growing. Volunteering allows them to accomplish wonderful things for very deserving people. At their sixth grade promotion, the students are recognized for their volunteer activities by the Beachwood School Board, families, teachers and friends.
The students have made an immediate, positive impact in their communities. The continued growth and popularity of the Club is a testament to the planning, dedication and support of the Beachwood School Board and Staff at Hilltop School. These students’ community service, begun at this young age, will carry on as they continually reap the benefits and rewards of volunteering. They are a unique Club comprised of students that exemplify the true spirit of volunteerism in every facet. They are role models for all students everywhere, demonstrating caring, kindness and mutual respect, and fostering healthy family values. This club truly represents a continuum of community interaction.