Kristin Robinson, left, interacts with Clever Clark, middle, and Erick Chabert, right, during Hotdogs and Homework. Photo by Sarah Jean Weaver.
By Sarah Jane Weaver,
LDS Church News
Each youth has gained something from the Hotdogs and Homework program, held on Tuesday nights at the Church of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in Harlem.
Clever Clark, 7, just learned to read; and Daisy Sorcia, 14, doesn’t mind doing homework, but prefers to have fun.
Hotdogs and Homework started five years ago when Jessica Allred, then a young single adult school teacher, saw a need to help young people in the community. With the help of her peers and the support of the local stake, she began offering weekly study groups to youth of the LDS Church in Harlem.
The program grew and, two years later, when Sister Allred left New York, Kristin Robinson of the Morningside Heights Ward, began coordinating the program.
Youth come to the Harlem meetinghouse every Tuesday and work with the same tutor, usually eating pizza for dinner, not hotdogs.
“There is a lot of fostering of relationships,” said Sister Robinson, noting that “people come from all over the city to do this.”
Kimberly Chabert, 17, has been participating in the program since she was 13 years old. “When I first started I had a lot of problems with math homework and solving things I couldn’t do on my own,” she said.
Now, she meets her mentor, Laura Ostler, on Tuesday nights “but whenever I want and have questions, I can call her.”
“Not only do we do homework,” Chabert said, “she is teaching me how to play the piano too.”
Her younger brothers Erick and Christian also participate. Erick has been coming for three years and improved his reading skills through the program.
Christian, 14, wants to play in the NBA, but if that doesn’t work out, he will settle for being “a meteorologist or an attorney.” He comes early each week to set up the tables and has been meeting with his mentor, Brigham Barnes, for two years.
“I think the biggest thing here is that they have people to be accountable to and people to help them,” said Sister Robinson. “It has been a huge success. Because of the program, kids have learned to read, graduated from high school and gone to college.”
In just a few short years, Sister Robinson has seen many successes.
“Consistency and longevity have helped the program flourish,” she explained. “They know why they are here. They feel it is a place of refuge.”
“I want them to know they can also come here and have fun.”
For more information, contact Sarah Weaver at firstname.lastname@example.org.