The Story of an Hour

 By Jillian Smith

SOWMA Education Coordinator 

What do you do with an hour?

That's one re-run of "Law and Order: SVU." That's how long I sit on the couch and scroll through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and then back to Instagram, repeat. That's how long it takes me to completely fall asleep in between the thoughts of the day and ticking of my to-do list. It's four times the amount of time it takes me to get a coffee every day. It's two times the amount of time that it takes me to get ready in the morning. When I was a student, one hour felt like an eternity when I was sitting in class but when I was catching up with friends at the dining hall, the hours seemed to fly by.

I work at School on Wheels of Massachusetts, an organization that I discovered while I attended Stonehill College. They asked my classes if anyone could volunteer to be a tutor. The commitment? One hour each week.

I volunteered and I dedicated one hour each week to sitting in a chair next to a student who lead a completely different life than me, but there we were - both of us, side by side, giggling about silly mistakes on math homework and talking about our favorite parts of school.

One hour. It flew by each week. I worked with different students because some students would move out of the shelters and would move into more permanent housing. They'd talk about apartments that they were looking at or towns they dreamed of living in, all in just one hour.

I started to look forward to the hour pretty early on in my volunteering. I spent an hour each week listening to kids laugh and learn, I laughed and learned with and from them. I was reminded that kids are kids, no matter what they go through, no matter where they live.

I continued to volunteer with School on Wheels. I was an intern, and, finally, after graduating in May 2016, I was hired as the education program coordinator. And after listening to my new colleagues encourage people from all different backgrounds, disciplines and age groups to volunteer as a SOWMA tutor, it is my turn to tell you just what an hour can do.

One hour. What do you do every day with 24? Could you spare one? Could you reorganize your day to dedicate one to a student who has been impacted by homelessness? One hour. That's all it takes to impact the life of a student who has already been impacted by so much.

Dedicating an hour of your time to a student impacted by homelessness makes a difference. You have the power to actually make a student feel special and worthy just because you spent one hour with them and can show them why education is so important.



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United Way of Greater Plymouth County

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School on Wheels - MA
100 Laurel Street
Suite 121
East Bridgewater, Massachusetts 02333


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