Orange County Family Resource Centers offer services in low-income communities at no cost to the residents. Unfortunately, three of the four centers have had to close in the past few years due to various issues, leaving only the Dobbins Hill FRC still running. Dobbins Hill FRC offers after-school tutoring for elementary students, including Fun Friday enrichment activities led by HYPE. The center also used to provide a Saturday respite program, but it ended in June 2015 due to cuts in state funding.
Ivette Mercado leads the after-school tutoring program at Dobbins Hill. She began working there as a volunteer while she was a stay-at-home mother living in that neighborhood. Ms. Mercado also works at Glenwood Elementary School as a bookkeeper, so she is able to serve as an intermediary between the children that attend the Dobbins Hill after-school program, their parents, the teachers, and others. For example, she noticed that a child had a hole in their backpack, so she contacted the school social worker and was able to get a new bag for that student.
Dobbins Hill also receives donations from TABLE and Porch to provide snacks and groceries for the families. Ms. Mercado emphasizes that it takes a whole community to support this center, and the work that they do impacts not only the kids but also their families and the community as a whole.
The Bonner Leaders are involved in the after-school tutoring program as well as in planning enrichment activities such as bringing in local musicians or sororities. The UNC students are able to form a bond with the kids and feel that they are making a positive impact on the community.
In the future, the Bonner Leaders hope to continue to improve the programming by creating monthly calendars to remind parents of key dates and organizing cubbies so that appropriate materials can be allocated to each child.
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