When Camron Kirkland was awarded Clarion University’s Civic Engagement Scholarship, he knew the financial benefits that came with it, but what he learned during the academic year proved to be of even greater value, but not just to him.
The scholarship requires recipients to provide 10 to 12 hours per week of community service. Kirkland, an education major, chose to work at Clarion Community Learning Workshop, a university-affiliated program that provides free tutoring the community children. As CCLW’s tutoring program intern, Kirkland tutored students, trained volunteers, recruited additional volunteers and maintained the workshop’s online presence.
His service bolstered what he had learned in the classroom, and it gave him the experience to help another community center.
Redbank Valley Community Center had implemented an after-school tutoring program, and when the director stepped down, Kirkland stepped up as the elementary tutoring center coordinator.
"I drew from my experience (at CCLW), where I had learned what it takes to run a center efficiently and effectively," Kirkland said.
Redbank Valley Community Center's tutoring center is open from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The hope, Kirkland said, is to be able to offer more tutoring hours. Increasing the center's hours requires increasing the number of volunteers and support from the community.
About 50 students use the center each week.
"It's huge for the community. For small towns where there's not always a lot of things happening, these community centers are an important resource," Kirkland said.
In addition to tutoring, Redbank Valley Community Center offers health and fitness programs, GED courses and events for people of all ages.
"I would say that Camron was a vital part of our development at the Clarion Community Learning Workshop," said Dr. Rich Lane, Community Learning Workshop co-founder. "His energy and creativity influenced the students and volunteers at the workshop in extremely positive ways. While he served at the workshop, we formed a relationship with the site in Redbank, and we are happy that Cam was able to bring the process and ideas to that site in order to build their center and widen the help that we all give students in Clarion County and surrounding areas."