For the past academic year I have been volunteering once a week at Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services’ (ETSS) After-School Tutor program. ETSS is a non-profit in Columbus that provides a variety of services for the refugee and immigrant communities around the city. The After-School Program that I volunteered with is one of the services ETSS provides for their families. The site that I worked at was on the northeast side off of Morse Road. The students I worked with were between the ages 5-18 and were primarily Nepali. The site director at the program is Timothy Murphy and I asked him some questions about ETSS and the goals he has for his program’s site.
What is ETSS’s mission and goals to the community it serves?
The mission of ETSS is to assist immigrant and refugee families and low income individuals in Central Ohio to improve the quality of their lives. We aim to facilitate integration through education, training, supportive services, and self-development opportunities as well as increase awareness of culture and heritage of Central Ohio’s immigrant and refugee population.
Our vision is to be the vocal point of integration for the immigrant families and to assist in developing a healthy, wealthy, and self-reliant New American community.
What kind of services does ETSS offer besides the after-school program?
ETSS offers a variety of programs for both adults and youth in the community. ESOL classes and Basic Job Skills Training are offered to refugees and asylum seekers who have lived in America for less than five years. Citizenship classes and technology lessons are also offered.
In the summer, children ages 5-13 can participate in the Youth Summer Enrichment Camp, during which they continue their language arts and math studies, take part in cultural enrichment exercises, engage in physical fitness and nutrition activities, grow through leadership challenges, and participate in field trips throughout central Ohio.
Also available in the summer is the Youth Employment Program for teens ages 14-17. Participants of the employment program work on projects within the community, such as neighborhood safety, nutrition awareness, leadership development, and the upkeep of a community garden. Some participants also give back by working with the ETSS Adults ESOL classes and summer camp programs. During the program they also explore career opportunities and participate in financial literacy lessons.
What are some good ways to get involved in those services?
In order to get involved with any of the adult programs, those interested should contact Adult Program Director, Dr. Leroy Boikai at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For any of our youth programs, those interested should contact the Director of Youth Programs, Amanual Merdassa at email@example.com.
Volunteer applications and more information can be found on the ETSS website which is ethiotss.org.
What are the goals of the after-school program?
We aim to provide a safe, educational, and engaging environment for our K-8 students. We want to ensure that all of our students have an opportunity to receive tutoring, cultural enrichment, and fitness/nutrition education. We take pride in the family-like atmosphere the tutors, and more importantly, the students help create.
What are you most proud of with your involvement in the after-school program?
It gives me great pride that day after day our students come in with big smiles on their faces, ready to learn and ready to work. Even after a long school day, our students find the energy and the motivation to continue on through their homework and projects and onto our enrichment activities. They care for each other and they help each other through daily struggles and challenges we all encounter. It feels like a giant family, and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it!