Class of 2009
Hometown: Nu'uanu, Hawaii
Psychology major and 2009 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award winner Mollie Norcross doesn't think of her volunteer work with Club Johnson as “work” at all. In fact, she says, “It’s a stress reliever for me. It’s definitely something I look forward to.”
Created as a way to intervene early in the lives of students facing a variety of obstacles, from parental incarceration to behavior challenges, and academic struggles, Club Johnson serves about 20 local elementary school students. The children, plus two volunteers and two permanent employees meet several weekends a month, for fun and support.
Mollie has been working with Club Johnson since it first began. “I initially was involved with Club Johnson with other JSC Nonprofit Management students working on a successful fund raising initiative over the fall 2007 semester.” The following summer, she moved from fund raising to working directly with the children. “I was really excited about that,” she says.
The kids are excited, too. Though they are chosen for the program because of problems they are having, the students see the group as a club, something fun. “They feel special to be a part of it,” explains Mollie.
A typical Club Johnson meeting involves individual time with the children and adults, “checking in” with them, snacks, and group activities. In the past, Club Johnson has done things like “going to Johnson State College for swimming and group activities, skating and biking at the Johnson Skate Park's Skate Fest, apple picking, and cleaning up for Green Up Day.”
There’s more to the day’s activities than just fun, though. Mollie says, “We strive to foster a sense of belonging, mastery, independence and generosity in the kids in Club Johnson to help increase the child's self-confidence, and self-worth. We help the kids work on ways to self-regulate and to appropriately express themselves.”
The club’s organizers are continuing to refine Club Johnson to make it meet the needs of the children it serves. Mollie recently traveled to New Jersey to attend a “Say it Straight” communication training. She feels that what she learned will really benefit Club Johnson: “With improved communication, we can address other areas more effectively within Club J. The kids and staff will also be more aware of the way they are communicating to others outside of Club J. such as at home and school.”
Mollie intends to continue her work with Club Johnson after graduation, and has a position lined up at Johnson’s Laraway School as a behavior interventionist.