The Importance of Providing Resources to Children in Underprivileged Communities
Interview with Yaelle Ortiz, a volunteer at Nuestro Center
By Riya Kapoor
Children are the backbone of our future and it is crucial that we as a community nurture and care for them. Located in Illinois, USA, the area of North Chicago has made the development of children a top priority. Resources such as the Nuestro Center are given to underprivileged communities. The Nuestro Center was opened in 1997 by Family Services of Lake County to provide academic support in Mathematics, English and language arts to low-income families in deprived circumstances. The center offers programs such as after-school homework help, summer camps, and tutoring to children in grades 1 through 5.
Yaelle Ortiz, a sophomore at Lake Forest Academy, volunteers as an after-school tutor during winter and spring for children in grades 1 and 2. What initiated Yaelle to volunteer with the center was her love for children. “It is a beautiful thing to be able to give back to my community and help people in poor financial situations. Underprivileged children are one of the roots to the downfall of our future and it is therefore important to tend to issues such as these”, said Yaelle. Yaelle works with two children, Giancarlo and Jafet. “My favorite part about working with them is that it does not feel like a student-tutor relationship; they feel like my friends”. Yaelle described the two children as “welcoming, charismatic and always ready to work”. In 2020, she also worked with two girls, Ximena and Jayleen. Yaelle explained that when the children have completed their homework, they are given the chance to journal to a variety of prompts. This allows them to think past the academic border and gives them time to express themselves in a well-nurtured environment. Majority of the prompts relate to current day events such as “What would you be like if COVID had not been a thing?”. For younger grades, prompts include “If you were a superhero, what would your power be?”.
The interview concluded with Yaelle stating “It is so wonderful to be able to make an impact on this community. Seeing those smiles is a priceless reward”. The work of the Nuestro center has impacted and continues to benefit those who are deprived of access to educational resources. Children in underprivileged communities deserve the same opportunities and resources and should not be denied due to their financial status. While the Nuestro Center has contributed to providing these resources, there are still many more barriers to be broken.