April: Fordham Bedford Community Services

Our April Ministry of the Month highlights Fordham Bedford Community Services in Bronx, New York. Audrey Hand is a first-year LV and a 2020 graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California. Audrey is also a graduate of Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory High School in San Francisco, California.

What is Fordham Bedford Community Services?

Fordham Bedford Community Services (FBCS), a non-profit organization founded by the Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation, is committed to serving the children and families of the Northwest Bronx and its surrounding areas. FBCS seeks new and innovative ways to strengthen families by providing a variety of programs and services. In partnership with the community and other local non-profit organizations, FBCS is addressing the ever-changing needs of a community that has long been neglected.

How did Audrey learn about Lasallian Volunteers?

Audrey learned about the program from a Brother during her exit counseling session at Saint Mary’s College of California. “As part of the graduation requirement, seniors must attend an exit counseling session to discuss their future plans. During this session, I explained that while I ultimately wanted to pursue a career as a high school history teacher, I also wanted to take a year off before enrolling in graduate school. It was then that Brother Glenn Bolton, FSC, informed me of Lasallian Volunteers. Given my ultimate career goals in education and my desire to grow after graduating, Lasallian Volunteers seemed to be the perfect fit.”

What services does Audrey provide at her ministry?

Audrey’s official title is youth education coordinator. “In this role, I help organize and oversee education-focused programs, including the daily after-school program. My role assists in overseeing tutoring services, program activities and academic progress for youth enrolled in this program. In addition, my position also includes working with high school students through our College Access Programs. The College Access Programs work with 10th, 11th and 12th graders through SAT Preparation and College Readiness Classes. I also engage in community outreach to reach students of the Bronx and tell them about our programs.”

Which of the core values (faith, service and community) is most important to Audrey? Why?

Audrey is currently serving remotely from home in San Francisco, California. “This has removed me from the traditional community and faith life of a Lasallian Volunteer. Despite not being in community, I am still very much attached to the Lasallian value of service, particularly the core value of quality education. Even with the challenges of the three-hour time difference and working exclusively on a virtual platform, I am very committed to ensuring all the students I work with receive strong academic support.”

What is the most important thing Audrey’s students need from her?

Audrey works to ensure that she is accessible to those entrusted to her care and those who accompany them and support their educational endeavors. “When there are any challenges or hiccups, I often serve as the liaison between the programs and the students. Whether by phone, Zoom or email, I am in constant contact with students, parents, organizations and tutors to help build relationships and create successful programs.”

How has Audrey’s experience of faith, service and community been impacted due to COVID-19?

Audrey spends her days connecting with students on screen. “Due to COVID-19, everything I do is virtual. Despite the virtual platform, FBCS programs have transitioned very well. All of our programs, such as the SAT class and after-school program, are run completely on Zoom. That being said, working virtually has created the challenge of building relationships with the students with whom I work. I see and speak to students every day, and yet I’ve never seen them in person! In-person classes often allow for time to casually chat before or after programs. With Zoom, classes begin and end exactly on time. To overcome this challenge, I make time to ask students about their days when they log on, to play Kahoot during the after-school program, to call and ask students about their college goals, or to have mini dance party breaks when doing homework. While not being able to meet the students in person has been a disappointment, I try to show that I am accessible to students and actively care about their success.”

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