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  • Writer's pictureBGC Metro Baltimore

CAW to Action Helps To Create A New Chapter of Literacy for Students At Callaway Elementary School

Updated: Jan 27, 2023

The Baltimore Ravens’ annual CAW to Action is a day when players show their winning techniques off-the-field volunteering their time to various organizations actively serving Charm City and surrounding counties. Through the United Way of Central Maryland, Callaway Elementary School at our Webster Kendrick Club welcomed the services of Baltimore Ravens tight end Charlie Kolar and the staff of Modern Remodeling Maryland as they volunteered with performing the necessary task of reorganizing the school’s library this past Monday. After a quick Club tour and before their valued outreach to this West Baltimore community began, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore’s Director of Social & Emotional Wellness Amber Reed, LCSWC openly informed volunteers about the levels of impact coming from what their presence meant to the Club members attending Callaway Elementary and the students this pillar in the community proudly educates.

“Within the last two years, we all experienced a collective trauma,” Amber Reed stated to the volunteers regarding the lingering effects still associated with the height of the pandemic. “I know a lot of adults had a tough time processing being isolated which increased levels of anxiety and depression. Suicide rates increased around this time, too. On the opposite end, these same rates also increased amongst our youth while they were enduring a learning loss due to being out of the classroom. Today, we’re trying to provide that space for our Club members and Callaway students can go to learn and have a quiet place to voice what they’re feeling. Children will be able to see people work on a space they know like the library. This gives them a feeling a sense of pride once they realize that someone does care. Your being here today is an acknowledgement that someone is invested in them succeeding.”

Her words were received with applause before CAW to Action volunteers made their way to the library. Classes were in session by the time Charlie Kolar and Modern Remodeling Maryland began their day of service. With the Dewey Decimal System as their guide, both teams became one as they arranged and tidied up the space while curious students passing by on their way to lunch grinningly looked in at the adults at work. The youth weren’t the only ones enjoying what they were seeing. With stacks of books in their hands, these volunteers pointed out some nostalgic titles they loved as child and found new ones they wanted to read to a classroom of students. Charlie Kolar’s towering six-foot-four, pass-catching stature made all the under-five-foot-tall students in Mr. Thomas’ 3rd Grade class ‘ooo’ with wide eyes as they looked up to the professional athlete walking to the front of the room. Charlie Kolar turned all attention linked to him being a Baltimore Raven and playing alongside Lamar Jackson towards what they were already doing in their lesson plans when he asked, ‘Can someone tell me about what you’re reading?’ Their response of all the books they’re currently reading gave him the green light to raise the book he wanted to share with them—'The Blue Whale’ by Nicola Davies.

“Reading to the kids today was fun because I got a chance to see what they get really excited about and I was able to help them learn something new,” Charlie Kolar said walking down the hallway after leaving the classroom. “I really enjoyed reading to them—they were awesome. Being able to help straighten up in the library was pretty cool, too.”

Mark McLean, Chief Financial Officer of Modern Remodeling Maryland, was another guest reader as he and the company’s Project Manager Chloe McGinn—who read Dr. Suess’ ‘Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?’—said ‘good afternoon’ to Ms. Cunningham’s Pre-K class to read his selection of ‘Jazz Baby’ by Lisa Wheeler. Along with this surprise story time came the chance to give students a mini-career day as Modern Remodeling Maryland told youth their career once the books closed. Students instantly began to ask Chloe and Mark questions about their work before they started telling the volunteers about their own career goals. It was an indelible literacy-building moment for all, but more so for Mark McLean whose days in the office are usually too numerical for words.

“I’m a math guy, but it was easy and very fun for me to read to the students today,” Mark said with a sincere look of happiness coloring his grinning face as he spoke afterwards standing in the library. “It was also fun to share what we do for work to help fuel their aspirations in what they want to do for a career when they get older. I think youth today need that direction and it doesn’t take a lot to give that to them.”

The Callaway Elementary School library, now cleaner and more organized than it was just a few hours earlier, was ready for the young readers to come in and enjoy their books filling the shelves. Volunteering is a ripple effect waving positivity to those in need and those in a position to give. Boys & Girls Clubs of America research has shown that 75% of teen members have freely offered their services to the Club, schools and/or neighborhoods within the last year. That number becomes a resounding one after seeing how 41% of that same demographic volunteer at least once a month. A good pattern of outward service to others is the perfect trend to set at an early age for every child. For our Club members who attend Callaway Elementary—and all students in general—this form of service will surely have a lasting influence on their lives as they grow. CAW To Action was more than a day of service, it was a reestablishing of the connection students and families have to the space after the initial wave of the pandemic as Amber Reed referred to at the start of the day. It’s one that Callaway Elementary School Literacy Coach Rachel Haynes echoes when discussing what this direct form of outreach truly means.

“It communicates so much to the children and the families at this school to see their spaces tidy, organized and ready for them to be utilized,” Rachel Haynes says looking around the library afterwards as she then spoke about the effort of our volunteers. “I was really happy that everyone was getting deep into the Dewey Decimal System and putting everything in proper order which makes the space organized and clean, but functional for anyone looking for a specific book.” She then elaborated on the communal impact. “Now I expect that this place now informs everyone about our readiness to support the children and community around Callaway. We strive to give our children the best possible education. There’s what happens in the classroom and then the way the building welcomes and supports our students. To have our space renewed in this way shares how much we at Callaway Elementary School care.”

Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore would like to graciously thank Elizabeth Acosta of the United Way of Central Maryland, the team at Modern Remodeling Maryland, Baltimore Ravens tight end Charlie Kolar and the Ravens Community for making this day happen. Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore, as well as the many communities CAW to Action has annually served, benefitted from the kindness that comes with no number attached to the good act. We appreciate the commitment shown on everyone’s part to help start this new chapter at Callaway Elementary School. This collective achievement is an improvement that Amber Reed already views as a lasting one created by people who truly gave their best to this community.

“Youth are very receptive in knowing who’s really invested in their futures,” Amber Reed says about the unsaid feelings of other community service events. “That’s why Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore is very intentional on bringing in organizations and companies that want to do the hard work—that actually care about the community—and not those who are just in it for publicity. Our organization can’t do it alone. So, when you have volunteers like Charlie Kolar and everyone at Modern Remodeling Maryland invested in helping us succeed for CAW to Action, it helps to the youth succeed as well. We’re better together.”

Want to find out how you or your business can assist one of our many BGCMB communities with the priceless form outreach of volunteerism? Click here to see how you and your team and partner up with BGCMB and click here to donate.

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