story & photo
by Maren Schober
If it is a Thursday afternoon from 3:30 to 5:30, you will find Art and Karen Nagel, Gales Ferry, sitting at a table helping children with their homework at the B.P. Learned Mission, New London. Volunteering there for the past three years is the highlight of Art and Karen’s week.
“My wife Karen and I also attend plays and help at social events at the Learned Mission Center,” Art tells me. “The children are wonderful. As we get to know the children, they become very enthusiastic to see us and give us lots of hugs.”
Karen also appreciates the hugs. “What a joy it is to have a young child see you and run to give you a hug,” Karen agrees.
Art and Karen are no strangers to volunteer work. “I first started volunteering as a baseball, softball and soccer coach in the Ledyard youth league,” Art shares with me. “I like giving back to my community. At present, I work in a first grade classroom in Gales Ferry School reading to the children, helping them write their stories and performing science experiments with them. All children need some attention and positive reinforcement.”
And Karen? “I am currently on the boards of directors of Child & Family Agency, Martin House, and Thames River Community Service. Also, during tax season I am a local coordinator for the AARP tax-aide program, which assists older people and those with low to moderate incomes with filing their tax returns.”
Both Art and Karen affirm, “There is a tremendous need for all kinds of volunteer help in our community. If you can commit to a volunteer program that interests you, your life will be enriched beyond what you can imagine.”
The B.P. Learned Mission is one of the programs of the Child & Family Agency of SECT, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. The Agency assists children and families-at-risk. Their programs deal with the prevention of child-abuse, the treatment of family violence, teen pregnancy, children’s health care, parent education and children’s mental health. New volunteers for the programs are always needed and welcomed.
“The B.P. Learned Mission exists to promote the overall academic and social development of children in lower income families,” Jennifer Messina, coordinator of education, shares with me. “We serve 65 children here from ages five to 13. Volunteers are used in all our after school programs including tutoring, literacy, sports, recreation, arts and crafts and our theatre program. We use the skills the volunteer has to offer. May 16th and 17th, the children will be performing in the play The Lion King.”
To volunteer just call the B.P. Learned Mission at 860.442.1798.