Volunteer Spotlight – Nicole Sims

Each week, Nicole Sims brings her passion for serving youth and teaching experience at University of Illinois-Chicago to the Alcott Boys & Girls Club. Nicole is currently enrolled in a PhD program pursuing a degree in Disability Studies at UIC, where she teaches introductory disability studies courses to freshmen students. With her diverse teaching background, she has been an asset to the Alcott Club working with youth on their writing projects and homework assignments.

"I enjoy working with the youth and helping them work through their ideas. They often think they do not know where to start or how to connect their thoughts and I encourage them to talk with me so we can work through it together. These kids know the answer, they have all the information and the knowledge, it is just a matter of getting past their hesitancy to throw their ideas out there and put them on paper."

Nicole learned about Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago because there is a club in her neighborhood. She thought it would be a great way to get involved as she was looking for an experience that would shake up the daily routine of reading, studying, and teaching at UIC. After volunteering at the Alcott Club for almost six months, Nicole reflected on a conversation she recently had with a club member.

"Last week, I was speaking to a student about their grades and the importance of balancing their extracurricular activities, academics, and goals. Recently, this club member has been struggling with their grades and through this conversation, you could see there was a shift in his attitude as he made a connection between his goals after high school and succeeding in school now. I think it is important to be a dreamer for our youth, to encourage them to think about where they want to be and help them set realistic goals to get there."

"We are in an urban environment and it is really important to realize that school may not always be a teenager’s top priority as they have to navigate through responsibilities outside of school. School is only getting harder, expectations are higher, and life outside the club can be very complicated for our youth. As mentors, we have to do our part to keep their full potential in mind, meet them where they are at, and work up from there. I believe Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago does an excellent job of being a supportive environment that takes value in the things club members say, their perspectives, and fostering their experiences."

It is because of dedicated volunteers like Nicole Sims that graciously share their time and talents with the organization and club members that enables Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago to accomplish our mission. We sincerely thank Nicole and the hundreds of other volunteers across the organization that serve in a variety of capacities for your service and commitment to enabling all young people, especially those who need us most to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens.