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All Aboard the Education Express!

Patch editor Lindsay Toler chronicles her journey through the United Way's volunteer initiative Education Express. For more info, log on to https://www.stl.unitedway.org/EducationExpress.aspx

So I’ve volunteered before, but the United Way’s Education Express initiative feels…different.

Usually, groups focus on the training and then pray like mad that just a few of the new trainees will make the leap into becoming volunteers. I’ve even been to volunteer trainings where you had to pay to learn but got a refund once you actually helped out the organation!

That’s not what’s going on here. The UW is really upfront: If you’re flaky, we don’t want ya! Well, they aren’t that brusque about it. But Education Express is different than your typical volunteer gig. UW is planning to closely track the results of these long-term, dedicated volunteers in school and tutoring roles around the STL metro area. As one of the UW organizers said today: “You should feel good because this does make a difference, and we are hoping to show what a long term difference this has made.”

I think that is pretty interesting. This is more than community members donating an hour or two of their time; this seems to be a large, collective effort to keep St. Louis kids in school where they can succeed! So I’m excited to say I’m on board!

Today was my volunteer orientation. (Don’t worry, there are more if you missed today.) They scheduled us for an hour and a half, but they were able to explain the initiative and volunteer opprotunities in 40 minutes. Basically, UW is looking for people to be one of four things: a tutor, a mentor, a homework helper or a reading partner.

I’m still deciding what I’d like to be (Look for that post later.), but until then, I hope you’ll follow along as I blog my way through the Education Express!

If you want to talk about this further, leave a comment, email me at Lindsay.Toler@patch.com or tweet me at @StLouisLindsay!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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