On my bookshelves today, I still have books that I received as a child: an illustrated copy of Treasure Island from my granddad, a three volume set of classics bound in brown “leather” from my nana, a red leather and gold leaf Bible that I (inappropriately) received from a teacher. They take up space and I haven’t looked at them in years, but I would never get rid of them because they sparked my life-long love affair with books. When I look at them, I think how lucky I am that someone cared enough to spark this passion in me, and how well it has served my whole life.
So, when I was contacted at the beginning of the December by one of our friends at the Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund asking if we could use a donation of books, I enthusiastically said yes! I had no idea the treasure that was going to be dropped off to us though. Books, hundreds of beautiful, brand new books, with subjects ranging from vampire romances to nerdy kids winning the day, each designed to capture the imagination of a teen, the same way mine had been captured as a child.
Generosity like that has to be shared, and so, as classes were wrapping up this week, each Britannia student in the 8th grade received a book wrapped in ribbon, specially chosen for them by Homework Club and their English teachers from among the Children’s Fund treasure. The students were excited as carts of books rolled into classrooms with their names on them, and thrilled to run around the room comparing their books with the books of their classmates. Shouts of “lucky!” sometimes followed by horse trading ensued, as students sat down to look at the treasures they had received. For some, the real book enthusiasts, it was almost a religious experience. For others, it was the first time they had ever been gifted a book, and they were a bit stunned by the unusual experience.
Later, in class after class, I saw students reading the books they had received, students I didn’t even know read, and I wondered how many life-long love affairs we sparked this week?
The week before the winter break is one of our favourite times at Homework Club. Not only is it the last week before school ends and a well deserved (by everyone) break begins, but it is also the time of year when so many of our former graduates come back to visit. Every year, we marvel at how much these students seem to mature in the five short months since they left high school and became college students.
All week long, students pop in to Homework Club to say hi, to check in with their favourite tutors, or if it’s Monday, to enjoy a nostalgic Nutella sandwich. And, all week long, we get to hear about their triumphs and defeats since leaving us: what they did with their last summer vacations, what schools they are currently attending, what jobs they’re working, and of course, what they think of high school and Homework Club now that they have moved on.
Every year, we hear how much they value Homework Club now that they have met other students from other high schools and realize that we are one of a kind, unique to Britannia. We also hear about all the things they wish they had known about post-secondary while they were still in high school.
So, a few years back, we created “Meet the Grads” – an opportunity for the current grade 11 and 12 students to hear all about college life from members of the most recent graduating class. The grads answer questions about anything from choosing courses and making new friends to paying for post-secondary school and choosing a fraternity or sorority. This year’s gems included, “do not sleep through your registration time or you will end up taking astronomy!” and “OMG, the papers – pay attention in English class!”.
“Meet the Grads” has become a Homework Club tradition, just another part of the holiday season at Britannia, and we wouldn’t want it any other way!
In the 2012-13 school year, Homework Club touched the lives of more than 400 inner-city students! Offering free tutoring, hot meals, caring ears, open hearts and friendly smiles, we let our students know that we believe in them, in all that they can be, and all that education can provide.
Of course, we aren’t alone in this task – in fact, we couldn’t do it at all without your kind and generous support. So, to show you the lives you have touched and the futures you have helped to create, Homework Club has prepared an annual report highlighting our achievements from the year, and recognizing those who helped to make these achievements possible.
With British Columbia once again in the news for having the highest child poverty rate in Canada, the work we do and the support you offer, becomes all the more important. We know that education is one surest ways out of poverty and will continue to support Vancouver’s inner-city youth as they struggle to graduate and move on to post secondary success.
Thank you for your continued support of our mission!