Students in Jon Fleck’s service learning class at Bellingham High School are turning their lessons into action by volunteering at a number of places throughout the community including Days for Girls, Habitat for Humanity and the Lighthouse Mission.
Fleck said watching the interactions between the high school students and the clients at the Lighthouse Mission while they play bingo has been very meaningful and creates a positive environment for all. Fleck said making connections with these community organizations was simple, he just asked if they wanted to team up.
“The art of volunteering is really what the class is about,” Fleck said. “In class, we talk about specific volunteer projects the students are doing but we really concentrate on how important volunteering and a strong connection to community is.”
While volunteering, students are expected to be on time and helpful at whichever location they are assigned. They are asked to stretch outside of their comfort zone and be active participants.
The class comes together in a regular classroom setting every fifth time they meet. Students keep a journal, track their hours and write responses to relevant prompts. They also engage in small group and large group discussions.
Every six weeks the students change locations. In addition to the organizations above, they are also volunteering with the Opportunity Council and Bellingham Senior Activities Center/Meal for Wheels. After spring break, students will volunteer at Whatcom Middle School as well.
Looking ahead, Fleck said he’d like to see the class go year-round, where students could come back for a second semester and be assigned to a specific organization.
“When all is said and done, the hope is for these students to have a connection to people and places in the community that do great work and that the connection lasts long after their school days are done,” said Fleck. “I hope each of these kids have such a positive experience that they continue to volunteer the rest of their lives.”