Volunteers enhance learning environment in Greenville area schools

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 3:25 pm on Monday, October 08, 2012

Jack Corner, left, and Marian Griffith, right, chat and entertain the students in the preschool program at First Congregational Church in Greenville during the end of the student’s snack break. Director Candy Outman said the program is very reliant on volunteers to keep it going. — Daily News/Kelli Ameling

Volunteers have become a vital part of many communities around the world, including right here at home.

Most local organizations rely deeply on volunteers to help their program, especially school-related programs.

“I think so much of them,” said Candy Outman, director of the preschool program at First Congregational Church in Greenville, of her volunteers. “A ‘thank you’ simply is not enough.”

Outman said a group of grandparents have volunteered their time to the preschool Monday through Friday for about the past five years.

“Work has to be done,” Outman said. “I rely on the volunteers so much.”

Volunteers Jack Corner and Marian Griffith, both of Greenville, started volunteering at First Congregational Church’s preschool this year. Both Corner and Griffith said in unison they volunteer at the preschool because they like the kids.

“The kids are a delight getting to know,” Corner said.


Griffith said she enjoys giving back to the community and plans to keep doing it.

“It’s good to give back to the community,” she said. “It helps it grow.”

Outman said she appreciates all her volunteers who take the time to help her out.

Other educational programs also use volunteers to help handle everyday procedures.

Laurie Wheeler of Christian Child Care Center and Preschool in Greenville, said she partners with the Foster Grandparents program and has a volunteer, Marilyn Schilling, who volunteers a minimum of 20 hours per week at the preschool.

“Grandma Marilyn,” as she’s known at the school, spends her time helping where she is needed, whether it is going on field trips, helping with writing or rocking the children to sleep.

“I get to do all the fun stuff,” she said.

Last year was Grandma Marilyn’s first year volunteering through the program and did so at Walnut Hills Elementary School in Greenville. She said she enjoys doing it and be an extra set of hands where she is needed within the preschool.

“I can have fun with them and be a kid again,” Grandma Marilyn said.

Volunteering is something she thinks is important because it’s giving back to the community she grew up in.

Wheeler said she also partners with the high school to have volunteers come down to the facility to help learn about the career.

“It teaches them how to dress, manners, what’s expected of them and more,” Wheeler said.

Currently, Wheeler only has one student volunteering, but expects more next semester.

Volunteering doesn’t stop at preschool — many schools rely on volunteers for K-12

Lincoln Heights Elementary School Principal Michelle Blaszczynski said the school is very reliant on volunteers, and said there are volunteers at the school almost every day — most of them parents.

“Students are more involved when parents are in the classroom,” Blaszczynski said.

Mary Kenyon, intervention specialist at the elementary school, said a grant was received from Dollar General for a program designed to utilize volunteers.

“Through the program, children will be able to take a book home and read it to their parents, then bring it back and read it to a volunteer the next day,” said Kenyon, noting that because of this, they are looking for more volunteers.

For about the past seven years, parent Sarah DeVries has donated her time to volunteer at Lincoln Heights Elementary School.

“I’m a listening ear to give students more attention and be there to help them,” DeVries said volunteering.

DeVries also volunteered in the classroom of her children, Britney VanderKodde and Kodde DeVries. Volunteering is important to DeVries because it helps support the students.

“The children are our future,” she said.

Blaszczynski said she has received really positive feedback from the students about the volunteers.

“Their faces light up when they see them,” Blaszczynski said.

She said the community has done so much through volunteering and support.

“We appreciate all the community does for us,” Blaszczynski said, noting she appreciates their choice to invest in the students’ future.

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