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Handy Lending a Hand

By James Hoyle
On February 11, 2016

Photo courtesy of Willa Handy


    One thing that most college students want is job security for the future. While there are no guarantees in life, one Concord University senior, a chemistry major with a minor in biology, recently earned a job at City Year, a volunteer program designed to help inner city children receive an education that they need to survive in today’s world. For Willa Handy, the student that has taken on this job, it is just one more act of charity in a life of several.

Willa Handy was born Apr. 11, 1994 in War, West Virginia. Growing up in McDowell County, Handy saw the needs of people. However, it was not until she was attending Riverview High School and started looking for colleges that she became involved in community service. “In school I had done community service in as a requirement for a HSTA (Health Science and Technology Academy) Scholarship I received when I came to Concord University. So it started out as a requirement, and as I completed my hours, I decided ‘Oh, I would really love to do more’, and throughout high school, I continued to do service and volunteer, and when I found out about the Bonner Program, that was a perfect fit for me.”

Handy said that the Bonner Scholarship Program has given her many opportunities that she would not have gotten had she not joined with them. “I’ve been overseas on a mission trip, where we did a lot of service. I’ve done work in my county, in my state, and also in surrounding counties and also in other states.” When asked about the mission trip overseas, Willa said that she and some other Bonner Scholars went to Nicaragua in Central America, where they worked with the homeless and children, and did a great deal of outreach with food, clothes, and medicine. During that trip, Willa says she worked as the pharmacist.

The organization that Handy recently got a job at, City Year, is an education organization that was founded in 1988 and is designed to help students from impoverished areas achieve success. According to the organization’s official website, the organization believes that education has the ability to help children reach their full potential, and that due to the high poverty and crime rates in some parts of the world, many children are not given the same chance to succeed. The website states that schools are designed to provide 15 percent of students with academic aid. However, in some poorer areas, over half of students that attend need academic help of some kind. To that end, City Year has made it their mission to provide these schools with the tutors and the teacher’s aids that students in inner city areas need.

Handy says that she will be working with City Year in Columbus, Ohio, working as a teacher’s aid, tutor, and assisting with extracurricular activities in an effort to assist students that are having trouble in school. Handy also stated that the end goal of all of this is to boost grades and attendance. “Columbus was my first choice, and that is the one the I was placed in.” The hours are roughly 10 hours a day, five days a week, including some weekends. They work not only with children inside the schools, but also outside the schools with their families and the community. “City Year’s motto is ‘To make better happen,’ she said, “And I truly believe we will.”

When asked how she feels about all this, Handy said, “I am from a town of 800 people, and will be moving to a city of over 800,000 people. So of course I’m nervous. But I think just being a Bonner Scholar has prepared me for this.” She concluded by saying that though City Year does not pay much, the experience and good feelings she will have from working with them will make it all worthwhile.

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