Butler County Times Gazette
  • School volunteer program ending in Andover

  • The Andover Schools Community Volunteers program has been ended by the same person who started it, in November of 2011.
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  • The Andover Schools Community Volunteers program has been ended by the same person who started it, in November of 2011.
    Amy Simpson said volunteering 70 to 80 hours a week to run this program, with no help, has taken a toll on her health and her family.
    “I had basically abandoned my family,” said Simpson. “I was spending every waking moment on the teachers, schools and volunteers that I love, and leaving my family and friends behind.”
    Andover Schools Community Volunteers started one Sunday morning when Simpson’s pastor asked the congregation if they would be missed if they were no longer there. Many gave freely of their money, but not their time. Simpson, who worked at Cottonwood Elementary school at the time, said she felt called to do something.
    “I thought maybe I could get our church serving as volunteers in Andover schools,” said Simpson. “That led to inviting all of the churches in the area to help, and then asking the Andover community to be involved.”
    The program was an instant success. But therein lies the problem, it was too successful. By the end of the first year Simpson was jugging 100 volunteers and even had to quit her paying job at Cottonwood Elementary. It was at this point that her church, Eastside Community Church, decided they couldn’t handle the program any more due to lack of resources.
    “They asked me to go to the school board and request that it become a school program,” said Simpson. “It went from one person running a church program to one person running a school program.”
    Simpson said the Andover Schools Community Volunteers kept growing and growing. By the end of 2013 there were more than 200 regular volunteers, but still, no one who would help Simpson run the show.
    “Not matter how much I begged for help, I could never find someone who had the passion for it the way I did to really help me,” said Simpson. “The last stage was to build a board of directors using high school kids.”
    The new board of directors was made up of 10 of the districts brightest high school students. All were assigned different duties, but Simpson soon found out she was just working harder.
    “I realized this is not these kids’ passion. This is one more thing they were doing and they didn’t have time for it,” said Simpson. “It just became so incredibly overwhelming.”
    Last month Simpson decided to call it quits and notified the school board of her decision. Since there was no one willing to take her place as a volunteer, and no money in the budget to hire someone, the decision was made to shut down Andover Schools Community Volunteers.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Starting the program was one of the easiest decisions I ever made. I felt I was called to do it,” said Simpson. “But when it starts effecting your health and your family, I felt just as called to stop.”
    Simpson said she and her husband are now empty-nesters and they plan to do a little traveling. She said she hopes she can connect some of the volunteers with as many teachers as possible next year.
    “I hope that shutting it down doesn’t mean that all 200 of them just disappear,” said Simpson.

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