Give Back to Your Community, Meet New People, Get Involved, and Have Fun!
Volunteers make it possible for our small staff to offer the wide variety of programs and services. Whether you are looking for a one-time or on-going opportunity for an individual or a group, the Community Center has many ways to contribute, have a positive impact and make a difference.
Please feel free to browse the opportunities on the Hands On Atlanta webpage to find those that best suit your interests and skills.
All volunteers are required to complete a volunteer application; this can be completed here or by visiting the Center to fill out a volunteer application in person. Be sure to indicate your availability and contact information.
Thank you in advance for your interest.
Decatur High Student Fundraises for STEAM Plus Summer Camp, May 8, 2017
Mayah Kirson, 17 year old Junior at Decatur High School, Sitting elbow to elbow with five little kids from five different countries trying to teach them their times tables, I quickly realized volunteering within the Clarkston refugee community was a priceless experience for me. I had no idea that one of the most culturally rich and ethnically-diverse communities in the south was right in my backyard until just a few months ago. Here I was, just a few miles from Clarkston, Georgia, one of the largest refugee relocation hubs in America.
The challenges in the Clarkston community are both economic and cultural. One in two children in Clarkston live below the poverty line. Families have a median income of $29,000, and 56% of the refugees live in poverty. The population of Clarkston is 14,000 with 43% of residents being refugees or immigrants. The refugees come from more than 57 countries, including Burma, Bhutan, Somalia, Syria, Congo and Iraq.
The Clarkston Community Center’s goal is to strengthen community engagement in programming and outreach. The Center offers opportunities for people to increase social capital, to share talents, and to know their neighbors, thus ensuring community and personal well-being.
I started tutoring refugee kids for a couple hours each week in Clarkston through Friends of Refugees. It became the absolute highlight of my week, and from there my interest in the community grew.
To me, the Clarkston Community Center is the place where service and support meet inspiration, resiliency, and community-wide collaboration. In my mind, getting involved with the Center addresses the local needs of my community while touching on the more global issue of the refugee crisis.
At Decatur High School, I am expected to complete a Creativity Action Service project, or CAS project for short. I am encouraged to volunteer and collaborate with a local group of my choice for a month, so I decided to connect my time in Clarkston with my CAS project in Decatur.
I have been given the opportunity to work with The Clarkston Community Center to raise money for over 80 excited campers ready to attend the Science Technology Engineering Arts, Social Studies, English and Math camp (STEAM Plus) this summer. The Clarkston Community Center started the STEAM Plus camp to keep refugee kids on track with their English skills and academics in an active and fun setting.
Campers not only explore eco-friendly art and experiment with programming and STEM skills, they are also provided breakfast and lunch as well as a supervised place to play and learn while their parents work.
Many refugee families struggle with financial burdens as they continue to acclimate to the United States. They are required to find a job within 90 days of arrival sometimes with little to no English skills. Parents are faced with long hours earning minimum wage to support their family. Childcare is not always an affordable option, making the STEAM Plus Summer Camp at the Center a realistic solution.
Only two of the 82 campers could afford to pay the full price of $300 for a 4 week session last year. I hope to stop this number from keeping any more kids out of summer camp.
Exposing kids to the arts, sciences, and humanities ultimately influences the course of their academics, hobbies, and careers. In my mind it is not a matter of why, but how.
How You Can Help
The heart of the issue is funding, which requires nonprofit organizations like the Clarkston Community Center to stretch far and wide to meet financial needs.
To break it down, half a session at a reduced cost is $150. One week of summer camp comes down to $75.
By donating $25, you cover upwards of two days of camp for one kid. This includes four meals and two days spanning everything from science, math, and the arts to healthy living skills.
If five people each donate $5 that’s another two days of camp, and eventually those two days build up to one more happy camper.
By donating you not only show the refugee community that they have allies, but that you’re willing to invest in a child’s future. There is no ‘right amount’ because that $5 or $25 can travel far.
To give, please click the donate button. All the money directly supports campers with their camp expenses.
I would like to personally thank you for supporting this project and strengthening the community of Clarkston
Dare2BAware Youth Program
Newsletter by Sydnie Cobb (Georgia State University) April 28, 2017
The Clarkston Community Center serves as a pillar of the Clarkston Community. Every week, hundreds of Clarkston citizens partake in the activities available at the community center, which range from the Clarkston Global Academy to the Digital Literacy Class to the Senior Refugee Program. I was given the opportunity to volunteer with Dare to be Aware, a program that strives to help refugee teens from places like South Africa, Afghanistan, Somalia, Kenya, and other countries better assimilate into American culture. Being a Minority Youth Violence Prevention program, Dare to be Aware teens are taught using the Positive Action curriculum to tackle diversity, bullying, goal-setting, employment, leadership, and healthy habits among other subjects. Teens in this program are exposed to new concepts weekly, allowing them to dabble in different subjects until they find their interests.
The engineering program, for instance, allows students to construct their own mouse trap car and bottle rockets to compete against other schools at a local science competition sponsored by Georgia Tech. Besides being a fun activity, the mouse trap car exposes teens to scientific jargon and processes that are not always discussed in the classroom. Another activity the group does is the gardening program. The gardening program gives students the chance to learn more about biological processes by letting students observe the growth of plants. Aside from these skills, students are also guided through matters concerning college preparation.
Dare to be Aware also encourages literacy among refugee teens by adding a book club component to the program. During the bi-weekly sessions, teens discuss the book (“Brother I’m Dying” by Edwidge Danticat) and create connections between the book’s protagonist and their own lives. Seven Stages, a small theater troupe located in Little Five Points, has teamed up with the students involved in Dare to be Aware to give students a chance to partake in the arts. Later this month, the teens will be participating in the Voices of Clarkston, a showcase that presents the artwork, poetry, spoken word, and plays derived from the creative minds of the citizens of Clarkston. The teens from Dare to be Aware plan to base their creative pieces from their book club book, “Brother I’m Dying.”
If you are interested in the Dare to be Aware program, the club meets Tuesday and Thursday at the Clarkston Community Center, which is located 3701 College Avenue, Clarkston, GA 30021. For more information, you can contact Justine Okello, the Director of Programs and Technology, at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, the program is open to youth ages 10-18 and is always seeking new volunteers. Happy volunteering!
Written By: Sydnie Cobb. (Georgia State University)