Camilla Levin: Next Door’s Longest-Serving Volunteer
When Camilla Levin started volunteering for Next Door’s adult education program, classes took place in a choir room with students learning from the risers.
It was the 1980’s and Next Door was at its original location at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Milwaukee. Camilla started coming one to two times a week as a volunteer tutor but that didn’t last long.
“I very soon started coming to every session. In time, I came to be referred to as unpaid staff,” Camilla said jokingly.
Camilla came to Next Door four days a week to work one-on-one with adult education students in morning and afternoon sessions, and she did that year-round. At the time, she was one of a few volunteers serving this program focused on teaching students basic work skills and preparing them for the GED.
“There was a universal yearning to improve their lives, especially for their children,” Camilla said of the students she worked with. “They were highly motivated, happy to be there and appreciative of any help, so it was always a positive experience.”
Camilla continued volunteering with Next Door when the agency moved to the 29th Street building in the early 1990’s.
She remembers working with students who persevered significant hardships in their lives while working toward their GED. When they earned it, Camilla recalls the adult education team holding graduation celebrations for them.
There was one student Camilla remembers working with for about five years who earned her GED but couldn’t attend a celebration at Next Door – so Next Door came to her.
“The staff and I went to her home, we took her a cap and gown, some gifts and a cake and had a personal celebration for her. It was very special to me because she came in at a very low level of education and worked doggedly to get her GED,” Camilla recalled.
Today, Camilla comes to Next Door once a week during the fall, winter and spring to tutor adult education students. Next Door’s Adult Education Coordinator, Peter Kafkas, says Camilla is one of those volunteers who connects well her students and stands out with her math instruction.
“Camilla’s experience as a tutor and her ability to convey mathematical concepts is truly inspiring. She is immensely appreciated by the students and the GED Program staff,” Peter said.
Camilla says she’ll continue volunteering as long as she can because of the high level of fulfillment she gets on every visit to Next Door.
“Education has always been a passion of mine and I just get a lot of gratification from it. I always say I get more out of it than the students do,” Camilla said.
Interested in volunteering like Camilla at Next Door? Click HERE to learn more about our volunteer programs.
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