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Cassidy Calhoon is a graduating senior at Alexandria City High School in Alexandria, Virginia, and a member of the Youth at Grace Community Church. Cassidy’s extracurricular activities have focused on Varsity Track & Field and Show Choir. She is an Honor-Roll Student and plans to study Public Health at Virginia Tech in the Fall before going on to Nursing School. Cassidy spoke with Volunteer and Mentor Coordinator Alizah Wilson about her recent intern experience and what she learned through serving.

How did you hear about Little Lights?

I heard about Little Lights through my church. I was looking for an internship to do that would be a positive learning experience for me while also allowing me to help some part of the community. I go to Grace Community Church in Arlington, Virginia, and every Sunday when I am at church, there is a time dedicated to the community outreach program. This shows what is new with all the community service organizations and nonprofits that we are partnered with, as well as how to volunteer or get involved. One of the nonprofits often highlighted during the service is Little Lights, as the Parks go to our church. Looking out at all the possible places to intern, I felt like Little Lights would be the most gratifying place for me to intern.

Why did you decide to intern with Little Lights?

I really resonate with the mission of Little Lights. The idea of children being able to come to a place where they get extra help with school in a fun and productive place with people that love them is one that I wanted to be a part of. This program is so special, and I could see, even from the church pew (which in my church is an auditorium seat because we meet in a middle school), that I wanted to be a part of it.

What was your favorite part of your internship?

My favorite part of the internship was getting to work with the kids during their Homework Club. When I first walked in, one of the kids looked at me and then looked at another helper and said, “Who’s this?” but he was already walking over to give me a hug. After I sat down with all of them, they fell into their normal routine, filled with affirmations, talking about their school day and closing in prayer. Being able to see them so passionate about learning and with so much energy even after coming straight from school was so sweet, and you can’t help but feel energized along with them.

What did you learn from your experience working with Little Lights?

I learned how much I love working with kids. I would always look forward to Homework Club, where I would see all of them. I started to find little techniques that I would use to try to get the kids to do what they were supposed to: if someone was lying on the ground because they were frustrated with their homework, for example, I would ask them to put their head all the way up. Then their chest. Then roll over onto your knees. Then push up and walk a few steps– now we are in our chair, ready to tackle fractions. 

How were you impacted by this experience?

I was impacted by this experience by learning about kids who I would not otherwise have any contact with. They taught me so much in just this short amount of time, and I will be sure to hold on to that knowledge and keep it growing.