HTM Blog

Connecting learning and community.

The Holyoke Tutor/Mentor program connects volunteers to adult education classes in Holyoke.

Finding hope in the numbers

Finding hope in the numbers

.Like everyone else I know, I split my professional time between my actual job and conversations about the weather,  paper jams in the photocopier, 'do we have any [insert random office supplies]?' and the other minutia of work-life.

One gray day early this winter, I started my work day with a conversation that segued quickly to the news. Not a particular story, but the overall sense of depression it induced, the 'I don't want to watch, but I have to keep informed' dilemma, the 'this climate is so awful and fraying our community' feeling.

"So, back to work, I guess!" we concluded, with false cheer.

I turned to email and spreadsheets, glum.


As our tutors well know, one of my responsibilities is to send an email each month and say "I know you have approximately 700 other things on your to do list (including volunteering every week) but would you fill out a form about your tutoring hours because the state wants to know I'm not wasting their money" (or something to that effect. I add some interesting links to try to sweeten the deal. )

And I get reports back that this one tutored 4.5 hours, and that one for 6, and another volunteered for 9 hours this month. A few say 12 or 16, but most are in the single digits.

On that gray, low-energy day, fraying community on my mind, I started gathering these reports.

And those little reports somehow added up to 474.25 hours given this fall.

I did the math (and checked it) and still, I'm surprised that enough 4.5's and 9's can add up to 474.25. 

(In the weeks since it's grown to more than 700, but 474.25 was enough to make an impression)

And on that gloomy, sun-less afternoon, it hit me what that number means.




Barnraising By John Boyd, via Wikimedia Commons

It's three dozen or so individuals who quietly come in, do their thing and leave.

'Their thing' being "offer welcoming support to immigrants trying to learn enough English to get a job or talk to their children's teacher" or "help a student who struggled so much in school they dropped out, finally learn that thing they thought they never would."

It's an education system that welcomes these students -- the dropouts and the immigrants -- with open arms and offers a second chance.

It's the potential of combining our individual 4.5's into something larger.

It's the ongoing, necessary work of weaving a caring community.

I love data
Thoughtful v.3: Serving

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Saturday, 26 September 2020

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