After school on a Friday afternoon, I met with Hannah Huh, Director of G.I.V.E. (Give, Inspire, Volunteer, and Educate), a non-profit organization partnered with the Fullerton Boys and Girls Club. The program allows students from 8th to 12th grades to volunteer their time and effort to provide musical instruments, math and STEM tutoring to grade school students in the community.
According to a mission statement from Ms. Huh, “G.I.V.E. strives to create an inspiring and learning environment for young children. Through enriching activities, we work to enhance children’s academic and musical foundations by providing the resources and tutor-based guidance that help towards success. Our goal is to give our students an opportunity to find their passion for music and math studies. We offer a diverse range of curricula, both qualitative and quantitative, designed to supplement and enhance their education. Moreover, we encourage and empower our volunteers to share their knowledge and experience through direct community involvement in an effort to foster civic responsibility and leadership.”
Beginning with a music session, the program’s weekly services start off with volunteers preparing their respective instruments and music stands. The learning students are encouraged to select from the wide range of instruments and are paired with a volunteer. They then transition into a math session, where students are grouped by grade and brought under the watch of their grade tutors. Curriculum is prepared every week by the tutors, who proceed to help students learn and practice their math skills.
G.I.V.E. is designed for children who do not have a lot of experience playing a musical instrument at school. “We try to teach them one-on-one and sometimes, we have two tutors for one student. So we usually have a tutor training session for eight weeks. If someone wants to teach someone and can play, we have auditions. We have to make sure they have good qualifications.”
Ms. Huh believes that “education is the spark and driving force that brings hope to the next generation. G.I.V.E. is but one link in a chain of support for our youth. We are committed to act as a bridge to facilitate the intellectual and emotional development of our youth so that they can thrive and blossom into their full potential.”
“This organization is definitely open for everyone,” said Ms. Huh. “I have a son…he’s eighteen. When I raised him, so many people said, ‘Be a leader. Be a leader.’ I was thinking a lot about what is a leader, what is leadership. In my philosophy, it means to serve the people, the community. So, when we serve the others and the community, we have a huge benefit. Students can do it by sharing their educational skills or special skills.”
Ms. Huh was a high school mom. Her son was in an IB program, which required community service. “A lot of people said if your son is in high school, he needs to join in some kind of volunteer group or community service. He has to do that to graduate high school. That’s why I had more interest in a volunteer program,” said Ms. Huh. “I’m an orchestra musician, so in my orchestra, we serve the other venues, like the Anaheim city, where we served underprivileged kids previously. That’s why my experience is longer than twenty years ago. But, I was trying to look for a specific venue or location for my son, which was a good organization or community service project, so that’s why I created the program.”
Brett Ackerman, Chief Executive Officer of Boys & Girls Clubs of Fullerton, said, “Hannah reached out to me at the end of 2017 and she was interested in running a program. I said, ‘We’ve been looking for a music program, but we just haven’t had anyone to run it. I sat down and met with her and she was off and running. It’s growing now. We’re going to start bringing kids from our Teen Center over here to participate in the program as well. It’s a great thing, it’s a great partnership.”
Ms. Huh added, “So we decided to kind of practice for the program. Last year, from the first week of March, we started here. But previously, we were individual volunteers. We were a group and we set up the non-profit organization. We never asked for membership or any money from a student or something like that. We just kind of tried to look for ways of surviving ourselves because we had to open the door for everyone.”
G.I.V.E. happens every Friday in a back room at the Boys and Girls Club. On the first day of February, I visited the program. Mr. Ackerman, who gave me permission to film, led me into a backroom where I met with Ms. Huh. On the wall, there was a rainbow with the acronym, “STEAM” painted on it. In front of the wall, tables and music stands had been set up by G.I.V.E. volunteers wearing navy blue Boys and Girls Club t-shirts. The children were divided into different stations. When I first entered the room, my eye was drawn to the keyboards since I’ve been playing the piano and taking lessons at Patrick Music School ever since I was in elementary school. There were also kids learning clarinets, flutes, violins, guitars, and ukuleles. Teen volunteers at all the different stations were working with the elementary school children to teach and provide advice. Ms. Huh and other adult volunteers were supervising the children and helping out the teenage volunteers.
Once practice time was over, a group of volunteers, each having experience with a different instrument, gave a brief demonstration for the children by playing a short piece from concert sheet music. Through these weekly services, the tutors of the G.I.V.E. program find that volunteering for their community gives them benefits as well. “Our tutors have come to gain significant leadership skills and develop personal character by interacting with younger children,” said Ms. Huh. “The music and math services construct a stronger bond between our tutors and young students, fostering a welcoming environment and quality learning.”
To listen to my full interview with Ms. Huh and to watch behind-the-scenes footage of G.I.V.E., check out the new Fullerton Observer website and click on the words, “YouTube Channel” on the left-hand sidebar, which should take you directly to my channel.