Students in University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Professor Lori Waite’s Social Problems class have the opportunity for service-learning work every year. This year, they have expanded that work to include the East Lake Salvation Army site.
The East Lake Salvation Army provides a warm and welcoming environment to children who can earn prizes and recreational time by reading and completing their homework with volunteers after school. The more books the children read, the more recreational time they are awarded.
Waite said, “This is a wonderful opportunity for UTC students to make valuable campus-community connections in a meaningful way. I love teaching service-learning classes because this type of experience helps students better understand the links between classroom concepts and real-world problems.”
The East Lake Salvation Army hosts a safe, fun, after-school space for children to socialize and be productive with other children their age. The site has plenty of books to read, a gym to play in, arcade games, a swimming pool outside when the weather is warm and the children get a hot meal before they go home.
“I have always wanted to work with children and it always makes me feel good,” said Anyssa Holloway, a junior nursing and sociology major. “Not just because I’m doing something that I love but also being a person that they see that probably looks just like them and see that there is someone who cares for them.
“It makes me feel like I have done something good and I’ve had an impact on the smallest person.”
Holloway also is a Brock Scholar in the Honors College.
“As a student myself, I was able to participate with the kids and read to one of them who was very patient and determined to read ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ by Dr. Seuss with me. I was inspired by how sweet the kids were and how playful they were with one another,” Holloway said. “I could definitely tell they felt safe and comfortable with the Salvation Army and the wonderful staff provided there.”
Lilly Tyler, another participating student, is a freshman psychology major.
“I’m a very quiet person, but I like it here,” Tyler said. “I feel more comfortable here than I do in classes. I love being here for the kids for whatever they need, hanging out with them, and being goofballs together”.
Captain Rebecca Sullivan is the East Lake Salvation Army’s site supervisor.
“Ever since I was a kid, myself, I have enjoyed ministering to youth of all ages. I was one of these youth when I was young. My mother was a single mom and she dropped me, my sister and brother at the Salvation Army every day,” Sullivan said. “I enjoy loving on all the youth that walk through our doors every day, just as someone loved on me. I am thankful for the Salvation Army and its mission.”
The East Lake Salvation Army serves children in downtown Chattanooga and welcomes any help from volunteers.