Opinion by J1 reporter Kaitlyn Rosenbaum
A defining moment in my life was when I started volunteering at NorthStar.
Northstar is an after-school program in Omaha, created to provide school-aged boys an outlet to achieve success in their lives and academically. Boys from grades 3-8 can enroll in this program, and once they graduate, they have a chance to then move up to the high school program from grades 9-11.
The foundation is partnered with Omaha Outward Bound School, bringing aspects of leadership, challenge, and discovery into their lives. They work to build mindfulness and engage the boys in programs to create success and leadership.
NorthStar also offers a summer program called Camp NorthStar, its mission is to enrich the boys academically while still having recreational fun throughout the day. During the summer camp, the Omaha Outward Bound School helps provide outdoor, recreational experiences for the boys that would normally be unavailable to youth in poverty.
This summer a friend introduced me to NorthStar. She had previously been volunteering at NorthStar for the summer program and invited me to help with a day full of obstacle courses, ending the successful summer camp off on an exciting note. I truly enjoyed this opportunity, for it created opportunities for me to return to tutor the boys in the fall.
I began to tutor the boys at NorthStar after school. This is a challenge, but it is also a rewarding experience every time. I am a service site leader through Campus Ministry, and I chose NorthStar for my site. I enthusiastically recruited other Marian girls to help tutor the boys. I was able to share my passion for volunteering there, and in return, many Marian girls had come back talking about how much they enjoyed the experience and wanted to go back next time. The volunteer coordinator also had great things to say about the Marian girls that have volunteered.
This foundation has opened my eyes to how fortunate of a life I am so grateful to live. I have been raised in a loving and supportive environment, which many of the boys living in low-income neighborhoods haven’t been able to experience. Through this program, the boys have access to technology resources, homework tutors, a gym, meals, and the aspects of community formed with the other boys.
The relationships that I have formed with the boys through tutoring has impacted me the greatest. These relationships are what keep me going back to tutor almost every week. One eighth grade boy shared his dreams and aspirations for his future. It inspired me that these boys, who may not always have the best upbringing or situation, want something great for their lives.