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Tenant groups honor BC volunteers

Kate Kreinbring '05 and pupils, in the CTA community room. Photo by Lee Pellegrini

Kate Kreinbring '05 and pupils, in the CTA community room. Photo by Lee Pellegrini

On a late Thursday afternoon in September, some 30 children living in Boston's low-income Commonwealth Housing Development are scattered through the several rooms of the tenants association (CTA), bearing down on their homework. From the occasional overheard question, it is clear that many are looking forward to a game of kickball with their tutors—students from Boston College's 4Boston service program—when their work is done. BC undergraduates have been volunteering in various ways at the CTA for 14 years. In recognition of this tie, last spring the association dedicated its community room, a large meeting space decorated with artwork and photos of the tutors and children, to Boston College.

Every Monday through Thursday, 4Boston students (there are 340 in all) volunteer with children at the CTA. This day, Kyle Meingast '06, a political science major, helps an eight-year-old Latino boy with wide eyes and a shaved head work on addition. He shows him how to line up his numbers in columns, but another child distracts their progress by offering a calculator; Kyle politely shoos him off. Asks the eight year old: "I thought they use it for money and stuff?" Kyle: "You've got to be able to do it in your head, though." The boy accepts the answer, and they continue.

Meanwhile, Jeff Stabile '06, a political science and history major, is helping a girl in second grade with a fill-in-the-blank vocabulary assignment. He's telling her something extra about each word as she chooses it—that is, until they are interrupted by another second grader, who questions the girl's grade level. The exchange gets loud. When it's over, Stabile's pupil mischievously tells an observer, "See, this is how the CTA looks like."

The BC students tutor youths from ages eight to 17 at the CTA. Teenagers who need a quiet space to work with their tutors often end up in the Boston College Room.


WITH Alex Danesco '97 as the director of CTA, and Colleen Kelly '02 as its youth program director—both are former 4Boston volunteers—the CTA has become increasingly allied with BC community outreach organizations. Twenty-five students in the University's PULSE program (which combines theology and philosophy courses and community service) have been paired as mentors with CTA children. The Boston College Neighborhood Center, with volunteers from the University's faculty, staff, alumni, athletic teams, and other students, distributes 250 bags of groceries each month to needy residents.

Commonwealth is not the only public housing development with such relations. This past summer, a new community room was dedicated at the Faneuil Housing Development in Brighton, named in recognition of the Loyola Volunteers, an association of graduate and undergraduate students sponsored by Campus Ministry.

Paul Voosen

 

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