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Monday, July 21, 2014

Volunteers spotlight: Making a difference at DC SCORES summer camp

Oliver Steinglass (lef) and Ben Alers.
Each month, DC SCORES highlights a volunteer that has made a significant impact on the program. It would be impossible to give 1,500 students throughout the District the quality programming they receive without the help of our volunteers. To learn about volunteer opportunities, visit www.DCSCORES.org. This month we highlight three volunteers -- Ben Alers and Oliver Steinglass are high school students; Elayna Cross volunteered with her Mitzvah Corp Group -- who have made a big difference for us during summer camp.


DCS: Where are you from and where do you work?

Ben: I was born in DC, but when I was eight I moved to Costa Rica. I moved back a couple of years ago and I am now a rising sophomore at Sidwell Friends School.

Elayna: I am going to be a freshman this fall at James Madison University and I am originally from Summerville, New Jersey. I plan to study special education.

Oliver: I am originally from DC and am going into 11th grade and I attend Washington International School.

DCS: How did you get involved with DC SCORES?

Ben: My brother volunteered as a summer camp counselor last summer and he really enjoyed it and he recommended that I volunteer as well.

Elayna: I am a part of Mitzvah Corps DC through the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and as a part of our program we were able to pick from many organizations to volunteer with for the week in an effort to learn about social justice.

Oliver: My mom told me about DC SCORES after reading the Washington Post article.

DCS: What do like most about DC SCORES? 

Elayna Cross (center) with summer campers!
Ben: That it combines working with kids and soccer, and I am passionate about both of those things. It makes it more fun to do community service in an area that I enjoy.

Elayna: This a completely different world from where I grew up, which was a very privileged town. Being in a place where sports and arts programs are a privilege and not something that is guaranteed has provided a whole new perspective for me.

Oliver: I think it is awesome to interact with kids that I wouldn’t normally interact with on a daily basis.

DCS: Describe your experience volunteering for DC SCORES. 

Ben: This has been a really positive experience. The kids are very energetic and the other counselors have been very welcoming.

Elayna: It has been amazing to see how two days can make such a difference, and how the kids already trust me and know me.

Oliver: It has been great having a leadership role at a camp as opposed to being a camper.

DCS: What motivates you to want to volunteer? 

Ben: Working with kids and helping them improve their soccer skills.

Elayna: Seeing the way something as simple as spending one day with youth (can make a difference). Social justice is also a big part of my Judaism and the reason I am here.

Oliver: I wanted to have a different experience because I play soccer all the time, but I have never used it to give back to others.

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

Ben: I like playing soccer and reading. I play travel soccer for Bethesda and I also play for my school team.

Elayna: Volunteering is a large part of my free time. I started a soccer program for kids with special needs in my home, so that takes up a lot of my time. I also like to dance and play soccer.

Oliver: I play travel soccer with Arlington and I play for my school’s varsity team as well.

DCS: Who is your favorite athlete? 

Ben: Joel Campbell, a Costa Rican soccer player. I like him because he is a great player and my brother played with him on the U-17 Costa Rican national team.

Elayna: Misty Copeland, she is a dancer. She started dancing in Boys & Girls Clubs when she was younger and now she dances for a prestigious company in L.A. She has now dedicated her life to giving underprivileged youth the same opportunities she had to excel at dance.

Oliver: Tim Howard is my favorite athlete because he is a good ambassador for soccer in the U.S. because he is one of the few who plays abroad. I also play goalie, so he is an awesome role model.

DCS: Who is your favorite singer or poet? 

Ben: My favorite band is Weezer.

Elayna: Mitch Albom wrote “Tuesdays with Morrie,” and it is about how some people who come into our lives make a lasting impression. I would love to be able to say that I had that same impact on someone, that Morrie did on Mitch Albom.

Oliver: My mom is a poet and she writes children’s poetry, so I have to say that she is my favorite.

DCS: Fun fact? 

Ben: I just completed an Outward Bound trip, where I spent two weeks in the wilderness backpacking through North Carolina.

Elayna: The coolest thing about me is that I was blonde when I was born but now I have naturally dark brown hair.

Oliver: I lived in Hong Kong for three years starting when I was in sixth grade. I speak Chinese and am still taking Chinese classes in high school.

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