Mentor Fundraises to Bring Program to Hubbell Elementary

Date: 
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
 (Left) Maya Miller, a senior high school student at Roosevelt who raised funds to begin the Power Read program at Hubbell Elememtary in Des Moines.
By Kay Wolfkill

Maya Miller went to Hubbell Elementary when she was a kid. Now she volunteers at an Everybody Wins! Iowa Power Read program at the school, a program that might not exist if it weren't for her.

Maya is also a Girl Scout. To earn her Gold Award, the highest achievement attainable by a Girl Scout, she set out to make an impact in the Des Moines community through completing a large scale service project. It began with the commencement of a reading club at Roosevelt, where she arranged for mentors to volunteer an hour a week to read to children. This was a success and Maya was happy with her achievement. But she wasn't done yet.

Dedicated to finishing what she had started with her Gold Award project, she set her sights on establishing a reading club at Hubbell Elementary. “My conscious wouldn't be satisfied if I hadn't taken the final step to start a program here. That was really what I set out to do,” she shared. She reached out to Everybody Wins to explore a partnership and begin a reading club at Hubbell, because she wanted to give back to her school. She soon learned that there were not enough funds to start a program at Hubbell Elementary, and that there were other schools which were in greater need of a program.

Over the summer she noticed that her aspiration of starting a reading program at Hubbell Elementary had not gone away, despite the news she had received. Maya found herself wondering exactly how much money it would take to start a program at Hubbell Elementary. She doubled her efforts and discovered that it would take approximately $6,000 dollars to start a program, and that she would be responsible for raising the funds on her own.

At first she thought it was too much money. After sharing her concerns with her mother Maya decided that she would still try to fundraise. They agreed to set up a Kickstarter fund online to see how far it would get them. They soon learned of a donor, who wished to remain anonymous, that agreed to match $3,000 dollars in funds.

Maya and her mother were able to raise the other $3,000 and the reading program at Hubbell Elementary opened last October. Maya attributes her success to heavily promoting the Kickstarter link to her friends and family on her Mom’s Facebook and Instagram page. Maya is very thankful for the donor. She shared with us that once she learned that there was an anonymous donor willing to provide match funds their goal of $6,000 was more like $3,000. This was a big relief for Maya because it seemed more manageable. It also encouraged her more to achieve what she had set out to do.

Looking back, she is glad that she didn't throw the towel in and let her concern about being able to raise the $3,000 steer her away from trying. “If I didn't even try then, this program probably wouldn't be here,” she said. The proceeds that were raised created and established the program at Hubbell Elementary. They helped to fund books used to read with students, the book cart, materials to make reading journals and literacy kits, and an AmeriCorps member to serve as a site supervisor - all thanks to Maya's persistence.

Maya shared that fundraising to start the program was really a learning experience, because she didn't know what to expect going into the project. The entire process was building off her Gold Award experience, and she believes that this has served as a very big defining moment of her high school career. She especially learned the power of patience working with other people, and understands that it will help her beyond high school when it comes to working with not just volunteers and coordinators but patience with mentees and the children she volunteers with in the program.

Maya has been a mentor at Hubbell Elementary's Power Read Program since its beginning in October of 2017. Her mentee likes to draw while Maya reads to him, they also enjoy an online reading platform that the reading program has on a Chromebook. “My favorite part about being a mentor is being able to work with awesome students,” she told us. Maya enjoys that children have the ability to be creative in their own ways.

When asked to share some advice for people considering getting involved in the mentoring program Maya told us, “I would suggest jumping in and doing it, but having no expectations. If you have expectations then you may not have as enjoyable of an experience because there is a tiny, tiny chance that what you envision as a mentor is how your experience is going to go. Be open minded to any sort of experience and flow with it,” she suggests.   

We couldn't agree more.

(Above) IMP Project Manager VISTA Kay Wolfkill and Maya Miller on site at Hubbell Elementary's Power Read Program.

Printed from the website on September 26, 2021 at 1:16am.