Shannon Mooney is a third-year in the College of Arts & Sciences majoring in Government. Shannon is an after-school tutor, and she goes to the Boys and Girls Club once a week to spend time with third- and fourth-grade students in the community and provide homework help. Homework help almost always results in one-on-one tutoring involving math and English concepts that the children might not have been able to grasp yet in the classroom. As a tutor, it's Shannon's job to ensure the kids understand why the problem is right, rather than just memorizing facts without knowing the theories behind them. Shannon's job is both supplemental and interventionist; the kids she works with are sometimes too embarrassed in class to tell the teacher if they don't understand something, but Shannon's position puts her at the same level with the kids in their eyes, so it's much easier for them to come and ask for help privately.
Shannon also is involved with her sorority's philanthropy, Girls on the Run. Gamma Phi Beta raises money for them year round with fundraisers, but the main event is the running program. UVA's chapter sends sisters to act as running coaches in a ten-week program for girls aged 8-13. In the program, the girls learn to develop self-respect and a healthy lifestyle with a bunch of fun, fitness-based after-school activities. The program ends with a celebratory 5K, where the rest of the chapter volunteers to ensure the event has plenty of coaches, buddy-runners for the girls, set up and clean up crews, and encouragement on the sidelines.
How did you first get involved?
My sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, has been partnering with Southwood for a few years now, and we've always encouraged our sisters to get involved. I started tutoring math and English last year, and I loved the kids and the program so much, I just had to keep coming back. I wanted to do something that would make a noticeable difference and wouldn't just be an activity I could put down on a resume. I think the way we can shape the future is by educating our children, and I am so lucky to be able to do my one very small part in making that happen.
What has been most rewarding?
I love seeing kids push themselves to learn more. The best part of volunteering for me is seeing a child finally grasp a concept we worked on for a while. I love seeing their sense of pride and accomplishment when they start to show me how to do math problems. It's been even better this year, since I already knew most of the kids, and I get to see them grow and flourish. I love that I get to help them foster a love of learning.
What is your #CommunityCommitment this year?
I'm going to keep coming back to Southwood as long as I'm a UVA student. I can't imagine what my week would be like without the kids. Every year, I pick up a different Madison House program as well, it just depends on what's going to fit my schedule the best! Through Madison House, I've volunteered with New Century Hospice, where I would act as a companion once a week to patients. As a companion, my job was mainly reading, playing board games, passing the time, or just listening to what the patients wanted to say. I initially joined because I was pre-med at the time, but I stayed with the program for the eye-opening and rewarding experience. It was decidedly the most difficult volunteering experience I've ever had, due to the nature of the position. But I always felt like I was doing something that mattered; a little act of kindness goes a long way.
I also volunteered for the Shelter for Help in Emergency (SHE), a domestic violence shelter that provides resources for victims and their families. It was a new program when I started volunteering, and I wanted to do work that felt more hands-on. I believe in the mission of the shelter, and I think they provide an invaluable service to the people who need it the most.
How would you encourage others to get involved?
I would first suggest Madison House, but that's not the only way to get involved with the Charlottesville community. For anyone who might miss the deadlines to apply to the programs, or has little time to commit, the UVA Community Food Pantry could always benefit from volunteers. Southwood loves UVA students, and the Ronald McDonald House is a fantastic charity that doesn't require a weekly commitment.
What has been the greatest class you have taken at UVA?
The greatest class is Commercial Law I, taught by Sherri Moore in the Comm School. If I could write a newsletter dedicated to my love for Sherri and her class, I would. I suggest it to everyone, even if they aren't interested in commerce or the law. Professor Moore is one of the kindest people you can find at UVA, and learning from her is like getting taught by a friend. (A friend who knows everything there is to know about the law.)
If there was one thing you could do to make the world a better place, what would it be?
I would make dogs live longer, 8-12 years isn't long enough. Imagine all the time people spend on frivolous things that could be spent petting their dog.