The Oasis Institute is bringing inter-generational tutoring back to Callaway County.
Until 2018, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, funded by a federal grant, was administered locally through SERVE, Inc. Oasis is a national non-profit based in St. Louis dedicated to promoting healthy aging through lifelong learning, active lifestyles and volunteer engagement.
Its tutoring program pairs older adults with children in kindergarten through third grade to help improve literacy. In 2018, Oasis volunteers tutored children in 75 school districts across the country.
Oasis hopes to partner with each of the school districts in Callaway County — Fulton Public Schools, New Bloomfield R-III School District, North Callaway County R-I School District and South Callaway R-II School District.
Under normal circumstances, tutors would work with children one-on-one. But with the COVID-19 pandemic making in-person contact risky, Oasis has decided to instead focus on virtual tutoring this year.
Volunteers will use video technology like Zoom to meet with children and help them improve their reading skills.
"We'll be looking for volunteers," Mitchell Jenkins said. "Once the schools are on board, I'll have a full-blown recruitment campaign."
Jenkins is working on bringing the tutoring program to Callaway County.
Volunteers must be 50 or older, be able to pass a background check and have a "willingness to help kids."
"Most volunteers, they volunteer because they have a need and a want and a desire to serve," Jenkins said. "If you're doing what's right for a kid, you'll never go wrong."
With many limiting their contact with the outside world and staying at home due to COVID-19, tutoring could be a good way to alleviate feelings of isolation.
""It could help with isolation and give you something to look forward to, especially for someone who doesn't get out as much," Jenkins said.
Oasis already sends tutors into school districts across the St. Louis area. With the expansion into Callaway County, the organization is looking at the possibility of serving more parts of Missouri.
"We've got a great program and we're looking forward to doing great things in the Callaway County community," Jenkins said. "We're hoping to get into more of central Missouri."
Those interested in volunteering can learn more at tutoring.oasisnet.org and contact Jenkins at [email protected] or 573-220-0371.