Celebrating Success at Ulu Wini’s Play Spaces

Celebrating Success at Ulu Wini’s Play Spaces

“It takes a village to raise a child” is the impetus behind Play Spaces”, says Georgia Goeas, (volunteer) coordinator and founder of the after school program at the Na Kahua Hale O Ulu Wini housing program or “The Homes at Ulu Wini”.

A volunteer and student.

A volunteer and student.

Play Spaces officially opened its doors on April 9, 2012, and runs from 3:00 – 5:00 on Mondays-Thursdays during the school year.  Children convene on the lanai at 3:00 for snacks (usually sandwiches, a fruit and/or veggies, and water) then proceed into the Recreation Center to do their homework and skills building (e.g. flash cards of mathematics operations, site words, or practice boards for manuscript and cursive writing).  “I have also reproduced assorted educational activities that are fun and educational for the children from a website to which I subscribe.” says Georgia “Once we are fully staffed (the ideal being one Homework Helper for every one to two children), we will sign out recreational equipment so that the children can play on the lawn or engage in board games indoors after their homework is complete. We hope also to include Friday afternoons in our program.”  That too depends on recruiting more volunteers. 

Georgia's end of summer hug.

Georgia’s end of summer hug.

Georgia is passionate about the education of Hawaii’s children. She has demonstrated this throughout her 34 year career as a teacher (30 of those in Kona), and by her volunteerism in many capacities.  “The school day for me always has included voluntary tutoring before or after school and even on Saturdays.  I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and although “painfully shy” as a young child knew from the age of 5 that teaching would be my profession and passion.”  Even after Georgia retired, she continued to contribute to public education. She was a Chaminade University Supervisor for Teach for America cadets through their student teaching coursework from 2010-2012; she volunteers to help Seniors at Konawaena to complete their Senior Project research papers that will enable them to earn Board of Education certification on their high school diplomas; and also volunteers to help students attain scholarships or to prepare for the SAT and ACT exams. Most recently, Georgia assisted a senior and a retired educator by proofreading their novel and family history respectively before publication. 

Youth With the Mission volunteers and kids.

Youth With the Mission volunteers.

While Georgia’s actions, enthusiasm, and committed volunteerism drive Play Spaces at Ulu Wini, she points out that the program is a community effort and will only thrive and grow if it continues to be supported by new volunteers. “To date our volunteers have been members of St. Michael’s and St. Benedict’s Catholic Churches (mainly retired individuals—some with tutoring experience), young adults from Youth With a Mission, educators who are currently teaching (ranging from one of my student teachers to two of my most esteemed colleagues) and former students of mine who are involved in other professions.”

The purpose of Play Spaces is to provide the children at Ulu Wini with hands on help with their homework at no cost to the families.  “Often children don’t do their homework or engage in nightly battles with their parents about homework, and we are trying to circumvent this problem by being proactive.  Also, many school age children lack the basic skills needed to complete the work they are given in school.  We provide practice time for those skills.  As an “added bonus,” we are noticing that some parents are dropping in to see their children at work; some are listening to the way the Homework Helpers work with the students and are acquiring these skills themselves, and others are contributing to the goal of creating a community or “ohana” by pitching in with snacks and clean-up.  Everyone is a welcome participant.”

When the photos in this article were taken at Play Spaces, the program was celebrating the “last day” of the program.  Georgia speaks about that day, “As a middle level educator I am a strong proponent of celebrating success.  We had just undergone the seven toughest weeks of the school year—the end of the 4th Quarter with the battery of standardized tests, increasingly less homework assignments, and a general malaise about s-t-i-l-l having to be in school.  These children were restless and wanted their summer vacation.  Therefore, we had a “last day” celebration of spam musubis and an awards assembly so that I could extend to the keiki (and model for the adults) my appreciation for their “hanging in there.”  I wanted to leave them excited and to wish them the healthiest and happiest of summers.”

Picture Gallery:

To Volunteer at Play Spaces:

Polly Varize, Volunteer Coordinator - HOPE Services Hawaii
Direct: (808) 217-6502
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To Learn More about HOPE’s Volunteer Program:

Please visit the Volunteer section on our website.