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Volunteer Spotlight: Lissa & Kathy


I would like to shine the spotlight on two more of our incredible volunteers: Kathy & Lissa!

As a volunteer tutor in Orange County Rescue Mission’s High School Education Program, Lissa is tutoring adults who are studying for their high school equivalency tests. She and her volunteer partner, Kathy, prepare individuals who’ve been away from school for years, and need instruction in science, math, social studies, reading and language arts.

“What is wonderful is the chance to use my creativity, flexibility and knowledge,” says Lissa, who teaches social studies, math and science. The two tutors work weekly, three-hour shifts in the classroom, usually in the evenings. Most of their students are in their late 20s to late 50s, and must fill in the gaps in their education in order to complete their high school education. Lissa and Kathy also teach the test-taking strategies that will work best for each student.

“They come into the program saying, ‘I can’t do this,’” she explains. “It’s amazing to see their breakthroughs as they gain confidence and learn that they can do it, that they can become independent.” Kathy agrees, “I see myself as a facilitator. It’s really satisfying to see them achieving at such an elevated level.”

As retired Tustin Unified School District teachers, both women are thrilled to volunteer in a program that gives their retirement meaning and relevance. “It’s exhausting and challenging,” says Kathy, who tutors in reading and language arts. “I worked with underperforming junior high students in the AVID program and I was pretty good with them. They didn’t know how to study, and I can bring those skills to the Mission.”

The High School Education Program creates the opportunity for success beyond minimum-wage employment, Lissa notes. “It is so powerful to see where they come from and to see their commitment to change their lives,” she says of the students. “These individuals are just like us, but they made the wrong choices in life.”

“It’s a horrible cycle, but they are breaking the cycle,” she adds. “Ours is just one little piece. They are the powerful ones.” Kathy believes the program changes the trajectory of the students’ lives. “Now I can use my training and talents to benefit others,” she says, “because teaching is not just a job, but a calling.”

We are so grateful for your service and dedication to the Rescue Mission, Kathy & Lissa!

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