Rockingham County Youth Services Students of Promise are high school students who serve as role models and tutors for Support Our Students (SOS) middle school youth. Students of Promise equip at-risk middle school students with the skills they need to succeed in life while, themselves, having the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. Statistics show that most juvenile crime occurs in the afternoon hours between 3:00 and 6:00 PM and that middle school youth are less likely to quit school and more likely to succeed when they have caring, positive role models in their lives. Students of Promise volunteers work and play with these middle school kids during these crucial hours after school and give them the attention, help and tools they need to make good choices. In return, these at-risk middle school students, through the guidance and example of their mentors, are empowered to give to others and their community – turning “at-risk” to “at-promise”!
Since its inception in 1998, as few as 48 and as many as 100 Students of Promise mentors form our four county high schools have volunteered after school at the four SOS sites each year. They tutor younger students in a variety of academic subjects and measure progress through reports cards, progress reports, and end-of-grade tests. Mentors organize community service projects, participate in anger management and conflict resolution and enhance the social skills of students in the SOS program.
Students of Promise mentors commit to volunteering at least 25 hours of service during the school year, to meet with the SOS students at least once a week and to participate in at least three service-learning projects. Projects completed by the Students of Promise and SOS groups include beautification projects, both at the schools and in the community, on-going activities with area nursing and retirement homes, coat drives, food drives, teacher appreciation projects, elder care projects, as well as collaborating with HELP, Inc., Samaritan’s Purse, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Rockingham County Pregnancy Care Center, Hospice fund raiser and Relay for Life Cancer Walk.
Students of Promise receive no monetary payment for their efforts, however, they are given incentives, such as fast food coupons, during the year and are recognized in their year-end assemblies and given t-shirts, certificates and other appropriate rewards. Since 2001, Rockingham County Students of Promise have volunteered 10,495 hours in the SOS program and their community. If compensated minimum wage, this amounts to $54,490, however, new statistics on the worth of a volunteer puts the hourly wage at $17.19 – amounting to a whopping $180,409!
School personnel as well as parents give credit to these high school young people and our SOS program for improved grades, behavior, attitudes and community awareness. Rockingham County is a better place to live, thanks in part to our Student of Promise volunteers.