Beyond the Classroom

The Adventures of a PLUW Student-Intern

Julie Butler


When I reached out to Karen Walker about working as her intern in my time left at Illinois College, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. From my understanding of past interns’ work, I knew that some focused on social media marketing and some did work like a newsletter. Everyone had a skill set that Karen was able to utilize to advance the organization. When asked what I wanted to focus on for the semester, I answered as any eager learner would: I wanted to do everything done previously, but I also wanted something to call my own. That brings us here: The Adventures of a PLUW Student-Intern. In the course of these articles, I will be visiting organizations within the community that the Prairieland United Way has affiliations with to learn more about the history of the organization, how it’s ran, and how the organization has helped the community.

The first organization I visited is the House of Worship (HoW)—the After School Program (ASP) and Just for Kids (JFK) being smaller programs funded through HoW. Ann Burries is the director for the House of Worship. The ASP has been a licensed program for 13 years and offers aid to 20-25 students on Mon-Fri from 2:30p-5:30p. The main purpose of this program is to help students complete homework assigned during their school day. As part of this program, services for students affected by bullying, Tuesday night bible studies, and lectures from the police department are all offered to the students. Pre-COVID, Ann and the staff enjoyed taking students on fieldtrips on Saturdays.

The Just For Kids program has classes that are tiered by age groups. For working parents, Community Child Care (CCC) is offered. CCC is available for children from 9 months old-5 years old. Since these programs are intended to benefit low-income families, children between the ages of 3-5 years old are free. Children between the ages of 9 months-2 years old do require a slight fee. With the programs available through the House of Worship, there are screenings for health—like hearing/sight, nutrition and mental health—to be sure the children are receiving quality care. Ann also enjoys involving parents/guardians in the work of the students. There are parent-teacher conferences, parent’s day (where parents/guardians can come see the classroom their child is learning in), and student portfolios—which track the progress of students—that can be viewed.