Wilmer Hall is a non-profit organization that serves children and young adults in the Mobile Community through multiple programs. In the interview below, Dr. Jacqui Virgil, the Director of Community Education at Wilmer Hall, discusses the importance of this institution in the area.
1. What is Wilmer Hall’s mission in your own words? – To be the heart and extended hand that reaches out to those in need.
2. What is the best part about working at Wilmer Hall? -The best part about working at Wilmer Hall is that I get to work with people who are serious about advancing the kids through education– and helping them understand that education is the key that propels them through, up and out of any circumstance.
3. How did you start with Wilmer Hall? -I got a call from the Director of Education, Mr. Eugene McCall, June of 2017. He told me that I came highly recommended to push a program initiative in the Maysville community with Williamson Prep Academy students. During that phone call an interview was scheduled. I drove down from Montgomery to the interview, completed the interview and was hired the same day.
4. Tell me a little about your 5 programs, specifically the one Spring Hill is partnered with, and what they do for those in the community. -The foundation for each of our programs is of course, education. The programs that I directly supervise/serve are the Max Miller Program (Pillans Middle and Mobile County Training School) and the Hamilton Education Program (Williamson Prep Academy). Spring Hill College’s Foley Center is our partner with the Max Miller Program. I absolutely love working with those amazing students from SHC and Dr. Erik Goldschmidt. The college students are the primary tutors and they assist the kids with their homework of course, but the most important thing that we do every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon with our kids is build relationships with them. I teach the college students that our middle schoolers will return to the program every time it’s offered just because of them. I mean it’s not mandatory, right? The kids have volunteered to be a part of the program, and I truly believe it’s the relationships that the tutors, the teacher Liaisons, and I have created with those kids that keep them coming every Tuesday and Thursday. We give great gifts for A/B honor roll. We have “College Exposure Day” at SHC– the kids get a full day of experiencing college classes, group leadership exercises, and so much more. It’s a great day for us all.
We also began a pilot program this semester at Scarborough Middle School. Great initial response from the students and tutors. We will go full throttle with this program in the Fall. So, that will give me 3 programs that I supervise/serve, directly.
5. What would you say to potential future student volunteers to motivate them to be a part of your team? -I’d say the same thing I say to close out every tutor training: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” –Nelson Mandela
You are not merely tutoring. You are pouring into some family’s first generation college student. You are changing the socio-economic dynamic of this community; and through those kids you are already making a difference and putting your stamp upon the world.
6. Could you describe when volunteers are most successful when working at Wilmer Hall? -Volunteers are most successful when they are consistent. Children respond to consistency. Again, it’s about relationship. If that kid knows his or her tutor will be there, that kid is showing up, every time.
Students in action at Wilmer Hall:
To visit Wilmer Hall’s website, use this link: Wilmer Hall Children’s Home