There is no off switch for Residential Volunteer Bob Mikesell. Regardless of how busy he may be chasing after his grandchildren or making plans to attend a new play with his wife Kathy, he always finds time to help out the Girls Hope family. From fixing toilets to holding tutoring sessions and everything in between, Bob has become a regular visitor in our residential homes.
“Working with Girls Hope, and getting to know these young scholars, has been more rewarding for me than I ever imagined when I first started,” Bob said. “Whatever I may have contributed to the program, I have been repaid many times over.”
Bob’s relationship with Girls Hope began more than four years ago, when he learned about our program from his daughter-in-law, who is also a volunteer. At the time, he was not only an advocate for women’s education, but he had also founded his own nonprofit, Education Creates Hope, which generates income to fund educational programs. The Residential Volunteer opportunity at Girls Hope appeared to be right up Bob’s alley. During their first visit to our home in Baden, Bob and Kathy cooked a memorable meal for our scholars.
“We met these wonderful young women at the time, and they were so happy to see us,” Bob said of his first experience with Girls Hope. “The girls asked us to come back. That was the beginning.”
It wasn’t long before Bob returned to volunteer with Girls Hope, this time painting rooms at our Coraopolis house.
“I was in the background painting away, and life was going on,” Bob said. “That’s how I really got an impression of what goes on at Girls Hope. The girls were polite to one another, polite to the counselors, and there was a lot of laughter. It was such a happy place. I really looked forward to going and being in the background.”
Despite still spending his fair share of time in the background fixing odds and ends around our homes, Bob has taken on the additional role of tutor to help us ensure that our bright, young scholars are reaching their full academic potential. The retired engineer said he even gets copies of the girls’ textbooks, so he can review the problems before their tutoring sessions. Bob and the scholars complete each question together when they meet for their lessons to ensure that our scholars have a thorough understanding of the concepts they are learning at school. All of the hard work that both Bob and the scholars put in to tutoring sessions certainly pay off. Recently, he aided a scholar in bringing one of her grades from an F to an A.
“When I’m tutoring, I really get to know particular young ladies and what they are doing in school,” Bob said. “My goal is that they know that someone cares about them by consistently being there and doing whatever is needed to help them.”
Through the small things, such as repairing refrigerators, helping with math homework, or playing a game of basketball after school, Bob has left a big impression on our girls. However, they may have left an even bigger impression on him.
“These girls are heroes,” Bob said. “They are the greatest girls I have ever met.”
When Bob discusses his volunteer work, he likes to reference a Mother Theresa quote that says “We can’t all do great things, but we can all do small things with great love.”
It’s the small things our volunteers accomplish in our residential houses that truly turn them into nurturing homes. From the bottom of our hearts, we would like to extend thanks to Bob, as well as all of the other Girls Hope Residential Volunteers who have helped our scholars to develop into responsible young women ready to make a lasting impact on the world.
If you are interested in creating your own volunteer experience with Girls Hope contact us at 412-329-7172.