Lunch buddy idea grows into lasting concept
For the second year, Coker College students choose PULSE programs in Hartsville schools to provide community service projects. Jubilee Smith, a Coker College senior and Sparrow Scholarship recipient, focused on the work of Dr. James P. Comer’s School Development Program to fulfill her scholarship requirements, which included 20 hours of local community service during the academic year and 20 hours of service at home during the summer. Smith developed and coordinated a lunch-buddy program in four elementary schools, Thornwell, Southside Early Childhood Center, West Hartsville and Washington Street.
“For this project, I wanted to focus on students who lacked healthy relationships with others, and students who were shy or timid,” says Smith. “It was important to me to create a project that would get the Coker students involved. I recruited seven very dedicated and awesome volunteers. Iparticipated as a volunteer as well.”
Coker student volunteers met with Comer facilitator Justin Dunham who provided a childhood development training session that provided tips on communication skills targeting youth and on building healthy social relationships.
“At first, we began by eating lunch with each class selected based on the schedule of the students," Smith explains. This allowed the Coker students to select one or two students for the Lunch Buddy Project based on pre-determined criteria.
"We ended up selecting 16 students total from all four Comer schools to be a part of the Lunch Buddy Project," Smith adds. "We began each session with an icebreaker, asking students about their day. We allowed students to discuss whatever they wanted to as long as it was appropriate. The most important thing was to keep them engaged in healthy conversation. After meeting with the students for a few weeks, we took them from class at lunch time and sat together as a family."
Many of the students didn't know each other, so Smith and her volunteers used the opportunity to help the students build a healthy relationship with other students. "Each week the students looked forward to us being there and always greeted us with a warm welcome," she says.
"I saw significant impact in both the Coker students and the students that were a part of the project. The Lunch Buddy project will continue in the years to come through other Coker College students,” Smith added.
Smith is the second Sparrow Scholarship recipient to complete scholarship requirements through the PULSE programs. In 2012-13, Coker senior, Gabe Fonseca interned with PULSE facilitator, Tara King. Fonesca helped design and deliver the mentor program.