Our incredible volunteers, who we call “TeamLeaders” are at the core of what we do. Their primary role is to work with our staff and Board to build a support network for our students. This network is comprised of trained and supported community members who help the student and their family access opportunities that many well resourced students have within their reach, but which kids from households below the poverty-line have trouble accessing.
Members of this hand crafted network, made up of TeamLeaders, tutors, teachers, coaches, and other members of the community, advocate for OpenDoors students in their schools and help them gain access to school based resources as well as out of school-time enrichment opportunities so they can graduate high school and thrive.
TeamLeaders are OpenDoors’ point people and they establish and hold the primary relationship with the student and their family. They coordinate and provide transportation, apply for extracurricular financial aid and scholarships, and schedule play dates, sports, summer camps and other valuable activities. In essence, TeamLeaders do for OpenDoors students what many adults do for their own children, or what any adult would do for a child they want to see succeed.
The backbone of OpenDoors’ philosophy is the relationship between the TeamLeader and the student’s family. Research shows that this very intentional partnership figures prominently in the student’s improved outcomes. Typically a relationship develops naturally based on shared interests and personal connections, like in the case of Theo and Shawn. Before joining the OpenDoors board, Theo Albergottie became a TeamLeader.
“I met Shawn for the first time after a basketball game at Carolina Day and right away I knew we would get along great. Shawn reminded me so much of myself at that age which allowed me to connect with him so early on. A lot of the experiences that he’s going through are so close to what I had to deal with at that age. Whether it was hanging out with my teammates after practice or wanting to have my own money to buy some shoes, it’s like Shawn is acting out a page in my life’s book.
The one thing that Shawn has that I wish I had, was the amount of support and resources that OpenDoors has been able to provide to him. I’ve had a chance to explain how many opportunities he can be exposed to at this point in his life and how much it can affect his future goals. I constantly remind Shawn how much potential he has to be successful in whatever he wants to do, and I challenge him to find something he likes to do so it will not seem like work when it comes to choosing a career.
Even though Shawn (like many teens) may not be the best at expressing how he feels, I like to think that the things I’ve been telling him are somehow sinking in. I enjoy the time that Shawn and I have together and I hope I am able to be a positive influence in his life.
To support our students and learn about volunteer opportunities please visit OpenDoors of Asheville.
“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” Steven Spielberg