Tutoring boosts students' grades plus family togetherness
ARLINGTON — Nicholas Alvarez, a high school senior, has a suggestion for youth, young adults, and parents who would like to strengthen bonds within their families. "Volunteer together, as a family, to help kids through Catholic Charities," advised the 18-year-old son of James Alvarez and Minerva Cordero of Arlington. "My parents and I have been tutoring [through Catholic Charities Fort Worth] since last fall, and we love it. It's an activity that brings us all together in a very meaningful way."
James and Minerva, both math professors at the University of Texas at Arlington, agree that the family's weekly tutoring sessions with a small group of teenage boys has been a worthwhile use of their limited free time. As members of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Arlington, the family became interested in becoming involved with Catholic Charities Fort Worth (CCFW) when Nicholas was preparing for the sacrament of Confirmation and asked to complete his required service hours at the agency.
"We wanted to serve together as a family, and the International Foster Care program at Catholic Charities was in need of volunteers who would help some of the children with their homework," Minerva explained. "We received extensive training and went through background checks. All three of us now meet with a small group of teenage boys for two hours each Sunday evening at a home in the Mansfield area. They are wonderful young men.”
Minerva, who also tutors an 18-year-old Catholic Charities client in Fort Worth each Sunday afternoon, insists that volunteers do not need to be professors or scholars in order to be of help to children who are newcomers to this country.
“High school students and college students could definitely serve in this way. There is such a need within the foster care program for this kind of help. Every time we meet with these boys, we tell each other on the way home that we are so glad we came. We know we are making a difference in their lives, but we also know that the greater benefit is to our own family.”
The family’s oldest son, Alex, who lives in New York, would “definitely” join his parents and brother in helping to serve if he could, added Nicholas. “Our family has been blessed by this opportunity,” he noted. “The student I work with is very eager to learn, and he works hard so he can make a better life for himself. I have been so inspired by this experience.”
The International Foster Care program helps to provide safe and nurturing homes for children who have fled their country of origin. For more information, call 817-289-3871 or e-mail [email protected].