Outreach Love: Volunteer mentors lift up 'kids that need it the most'

By John W. Davis, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 4:34 PM EDT

Micala Williams is a fourth-grade student at Fern Creek Elementary School, who — believe it or not — loves getting up early on Saturday mornings.

  • Outreach Love is a mentoring program for at-risk youth
  • Orlando program has helped kids for almost 2 decades
  • Volunteers tutor kids, give them a new perspective

“The people here, the adults here, they encourage me a lot,” Micala said. “It makes me have more confidence in myself."

The 10-year-old is enrolled in an Orlando volunteer mentoring program that has been diligently working to help at-risk students for almost two decades.

Outreach Love is an all-volunteer initiative that directly impacts children in Parramore and other nearby low-income neighborhoods.

“My favorite subject? I’ll go with reading," gleamed Micala, who is striving for all A's. She's participated in Outreach Love since she was in kindergarten.

“It makes me feel really special," she said.

The program consists of volunteers who mentor at-risk children through weekly one-on-one tutoring sessions at the Wesley Child Development Center in downtown Orlando. Each child is assigned two mentors who rotate tutoring duties every other week.

Students are primarily from the Parramore, Griffin Park and Reeves Terrace neighborhoods.

“We get the kids that need it the most," said Marissa Caravelis, a co-director at Outreach Love. “Mentoring, giving them advice, giving them a new perspective (is what we do). Sometimes it’s more of a mentoring day than a tutoring day based on if they’ve had a bad week or what’s going on in their life," she said.

"We’re also like a support system based on what they need as well."

For Micala, it is that type of support that lets her know anything is possible.

“My Mom has to work a lot, so I don’t really get to see her (some) days," Micala said.

“It’s OK to learn my own way; breakthroughs start with the small steps I take today," she said.

Outreach Love is finished for this school year but will start back up in September 2017. The program, which mentors about 25 students at a time, is currently accepting volunteer tutors