The Burlington School Service Week Kick-Off

Last week, United Way of Alamance County helped coordinate presentations for the 6th-8th graders at The Burlington School to kick-off their service week trips. We were approached by Kristi Tanner, Middle School Academic Dean, to create a presentation to introduce service and the broader community to the students. Community partners and United Way staff joined together to teach the students about the importance of service and why it matters to them. Students were given a snapshot of what issues exist in Alamance and the choices people are forced to make every day.

During the morning session, students heard from Nikki Ratliff of Burlington Housing Authority as an introduction to the day and what they will be learning. Monika Gauthier spoke about Allied Churches of Alamance County and the work they do to combat homelessness and connect those in need to community resources. Next they heard from Anne Connolly with Meals on Wheels and students were able to decorate birthday bags for the clients. The morning session ended with students creating profiles on Volunteer Alamance and exploring volunteer opportunities that are of interest to them. Over 80 students signed up!

The afternoon session was a presentation from Kellee Hawley and Sally Gordon with United Way. The focus of the afternoon was what does poverty look like in Alamance County and why does it matter to you? We did a privilege activity and asked students a series of questions. If the student answered yes, they would add a paperclip to their chain. By the end of the activity each student had a long chain and began to think about the resources they have access to on a daily basis.

After the privilege discussion, we had each student participate in an online choices activity. This was a simulation of living paycheck to paycheck and trying to get through a month by making a series of hard choices. Students had to make tough decisions such as purchasing health insurance or missing a school event to work because you need the income.

We then shared statistics with the group regarding children living in poverty, high school graduation rates, food insecurity, etc. Sixth grader Graham Huneycutt stated “this is eye-opening” after we went over the stats with the group. The students were engaged and thoughtful in their reflections of the different activities and we appreciated being able to share this information with them.

We would like to thank our partners Burlington Housing Authority, Allied Churches of Alamance County, and Meals on Wheels for taking part in this day with us!