Volunteers missing in action

More volunteers are needed at the Apalachee Ridge Technology Center where multimedia services and tutoring are offered to youth on a daily basis.

Since 2002, the center has been dedicated to offering a variety of services to its surrounding neighborhood. The center’s services include tutoring, mentoring, computer access, college and career planning, a digital lab and afternoon programming for youth.

On average, the center has 10 people who volunteer monthly.

“We need to increase volunteerism here,” said Terrance McNeil, director of ARTC.

Some volunteers include Florida A&M University’s School of Journalism & Graphic Communication students and a few males from the community. Other volunteers come from Florida State University’s School of Education because of a service-learning requirement.

The center finds that most of their services are utilized by youth, mainly males ages 8 to 17. However, there are only two male volunteers that participate regularly at the center.

“The center has found a need for more volunteers overall but an even greater need for male volunteers,” McNeil said.

Recently, several FAMU organizations volunteered for the center’s Black History Month Festival.

“The volunteerism made the event better than anticipated,” McNeil said. “We’d like to see the same participation at all times; our youth need that presence.”

The number of students present for tutoring varies depending on the day and what other school activities are going on, McNeil said. On average there are anywhere from five to 20 youth in the facility at one time.

Large youth participation is a goal for the center, but with only two main caretakers “monitoring the children can be difficult,” said Betsheell Metayer, a center employee.

There was a time in February where Metayer was ill and had to go to the hospital. This affected the center.

“The center had to be closed down for the day due to lack of help,” she said.

The facility houses at least 12 computers, a printer, fax and copy machine. The center also has a digital media lab that is used to make anything from films and music CDs to Internet broadcasts.

“The 18-25 year-olds in Tallahassee are the most equipped to positively influence the youth that come here,” McNeil said.

McNeil said the center is equipped with all the necessary tools to help educate young people and all it is missing is the manpower and volunteerism from the surrounding community.

“Over 50 percent of the centers’ youth are ‘at risk youth,’ ” McNeil said. “Just last month one of the center’s 15 year-old participants lost a friend due to gun violence. Instead of paying our tax dollars for jailed youth we can pay it here with our own time.”

Anyone with a desire to help can volunteer.

“If you like kids – even if you don’t – you may have something you want someone to learn,” said volunteer Jessica Clay, 20, a public relations student from Detroit. “Just come out and help.”

Currently, ARTC is working with Tallahassee Community College to establish an adult learning program.

For further information, contact McNeil or Metayer at (850) 877- 2709.