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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Volunteer Spotlight: Emily Norton, George Washington University Neighbors Project

Each month, DC SCORES highlights a volunteer that has made a significant impact on the program. It would be impossible to give over 1,450 students throughout the District the quality programming they receive without the help of our volunteers. To learn about volunteer opportunities, visit www.DCSCORES.org.


DCS: Are you currently employed or a student? If so where?

EN: I am the Program Manager of Neighbors Project — George Washington University’s longest-running service program within the Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service. We offer different ongoing volunteer opportunities with over 30 community partners, and DC SCORES is one of those community partners.

DCS: How did you become involved with Neighbors Project?

EN: My position is actually an AmeriCorps VISTA position and I heard about it back in March 2012 at my past job with Clinton Global Initiative when GW hosted the CGI University conference. At this conference, I learned about the Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service and Neighbors Project

DCS: Are you enjoying your work with the Neighbors Project?

EN: I love it. Managing the program has been a great experience and I have learned a lot about working in a higher education institution. I also have gotten to play an active role in the strategic planning process for Neighbors Project and have worked on how we can enhance the program for the future.

DCS: Describe your partnership with DC SCORES?

EN: We have had a great partnership with DC SCORES, especially this year because we have been able to deepen it by providing GW volunteers to not only help with direct service, but also with behind-the-scenes and capacity-building projects. We are very fortunate to have Mike Cuttler, one of Neighbors Project's 10 student service coordinators, assigned to DC SCORES, and he has done a great job with recruiting student volunteers and with sharing DC SCORES' mission with the GW community.

DCS: Why is the relationship better this year than ever before?

EN: This year, the 2012-2013 academic year, Neighbors Project  piloted its “Building Capacity, Building Community” program in which we selected four of our 33 community partners to participate in it. For these four community partners, we focus on strengthening their organizations through capacity-building projects such as program evaluations, database development, website design, partnership building, event planning, etc.

DC SCORES was selected to be one of the four community partners to participate in the pilot. We have secured volunteers, both undergraduate students and graduate students, to help DC SCORES with development and operations. We are leveraging students’ skill sets by allowing students to apply the skills they are learning in the classroom in ways that can help community nonprofits in need.

DCS: How did you get involved with DC SCORES?

I believe it has been about three years since we established our partnership with DC SCORES. We support DC SCORES’ mission and wanted to provide our students with an opportunity for them to help with DC SCORES’ youth development programs.

DCS: What makes the Neighbors Project continue their work with DC SCORES?

EN: It’s a great way for GW students to serve as role models and share their knowledge — whether that’s creative writing skills or soccer skills — with DC youth. It is also a great way for them to be engaged in the community.

DCS: What do you find most interesting about DC SCORES?

EN: I think the model is very unique. I love how DC SCORES  combines writing and soccer, and it’s obviously very effective based on the feedback received from both its participants and parents as well as the organization’s outcomes.

I think it’s a great example of combining sports with academic support to create an enriching and fun youth development program.

DCS: So I hear you’re interested in volunteering with us at Jamboree!?

EN: Yes! I’m usually in the office when DC SCORES’ after-school programs are running, so this is a great opportunity for me to see the DC SCORES program in action.

DCS: What do you like to do with your free time?

EN: Volunteer (laughs). I recently moved to DC in June, so I love to explore the city, whether that’s different neighborhoods or sites. I also like learning about new cultures, traveling, photography and hanging out with friends.

DCS: Who is your favorite athlete?

EN: Basketball is my favorite sport so I guess I have to say Michael Jordan, though I prefer college basketball so actually my favorite athletes are the entire Bucknell University (my alma mater) men’s basketball team! I’m crossing my fingers we make it to the NCAA Tournament this year.

DCS: What music are you into right now?

EN: I listen to a wide variety of music. I really don’t have a favorite.

DCS: What is your favorite food? If you could only eat one food for the next month, what would it be?

EN: Fruit — I love all types!  

DCS: Any other interesting information about yourself?

EN: I just want to say that I think everyone should come out and volunteer with DC SCORES

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