This summer, about a half-dozen students have been volunteering at Doors to Hope, a charity ministering to immigrant families aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty and violence through education.

Doors to Hope is a grassroots initiative that opened in January 2013 and is operated by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. It offers resources such as computer literacy training and GED classes.

WATCH video of UofL students volunteering at Doors to Hope: 

The charity’s location at a church near Jim Patterson Stadium, the university’s back yard, makes it easy for students to take the time to volunteer. UofL is the only university with a presence there.

The student volunteers assist with tutoring for children of all ages that come to the program, and there are plans to begin a student-led introductory English program in the fall for students and their parents. Also in the fall, UofL fine arts students will assist Doors to Hope by designing visual communications materials for the program.

Program coordinator Morel Jones praised the students’ versatility in assisting wherever they’re needed, saying that the extra helping hands make the rest of the volunteers’ jobs a lot easier.

Typical duties for a student volunteer might include playing an educational board game or practicing literacy skills with children, who are aged 2 to 15 and whose families work at Churchill Downs.

“We get a lot of kids whose mothers come to the ESL program here, and I just try to occupy their time in a constructive way,” said Ian White, one of the UofL student volunteers. “I end up just listening and talking with them, and it’s really a lot of fun.”

LALS and Doors to Hope are both partnering with Behold 1500 Latinos!, a program under Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s 55,000 Degrees initiative aimed at helping at least 1,500 Latino students receive post-secondary degrees by the year 2020. 

“We are very grateful to have been invited to collaborate with the Behold 1500 Latinos! initiative and the Doors to Hope program on their efforts to provide tutoring and mentoring to Latino students and families,” said Rhonda Buchanan, LALS director. “Our goal is to help the Latino community in any way we can, to help every parent, child and family be successful, and in return our students benefit as well.”

Buchanan went on to say that a dozen or more students are expected to take part when the semester begins, and more are always welcome. Information is available on the LALS website.

Doors to Hope is located at Holy Name Church, 2914 S. Third St., and is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays noon to 7 p.m., and Saturdays 10 a.m. to noon.