“Gulfport volunteers rock!” elementary school volunteer coordinator Mary Ruth Bumgarner said. The volunteers, about 60 of them, perform a wide range of jobs: They tutor and mentor students; help classroom teachers; chaperone field trips; work in the media center and cafeteria; help in the office area; provide family education and activities through the Parent Teacher Association (PTA); and help with the Pack-a-Sack program, she said. Gulfport Elementary has about 630 students in grades pre-k to 5.
Among the dozens of wonderful volunteers, the school is recognizing three in particular for their work:
Halie West was chosen as Pinellas County outstanding youth volunteer for the 2014-15 school year. Halie, a 10th grader at Boca Ciega Medical Magnet, has helped at many PTA events at the elementary school in the past two years, provided child care for parents attending school events, and worked in the library and media center. In the general community Halie has volunteered with terminally ill patients at Suncoast Hospice and at various animal organizations.
“These activities have provided a maturing process for Halie and have benefited people of all ages, genders and race,” a statement from the elementary school said. “Halie exemplifies the capabilities of our youth of today.”
Ross Busch, a senior at Eckerd College studying international relations, was chosen the adult volunteer for, among other things, his weekly work with fourth graders over the past two years.
“He helps with small group math tutoring, reading comprehension, word recognition, arts/crafts and other activities,” the school said. “He has helped with severe behavior problems by working one-on-one with those students during small groups.” Ross also has been instrumental in having several dozen other Eckerd students volunteer at the elementary school.
Don Mulholland was chosen as the outstanding senior volunteer. Don volunteers weekly in the classroom of his daughter, Donna Mulholland, who teaches in the Montessori Program at Gulfport Elementary. He frequently helps with classroom cooking projects and tutors kindergarten students. Also, over the years Don and his family have donated school supplies, backpacks and bicycles to motivate students throughout St. Petersburg.
Ron Diner, director of Strategic Community Partnerships at Raymond James Financial, was the guest speaker at the April 22 event. In an email, he said many children in the community live in difficult circumstances that distract their ability to learn, and commended the role of volunteers in the schools.
“By volunteering as a mentor, we can help children to feel better about focusing on learning, and thus make it easier for teachers to teach,” he said.