Give back to the local Binghamton Community! Volunteer with SUNY Kids

Are you interested in making a positive impact on the local Binghamton community? Have you considered a career working with children? Join the SUNY Kids student organization! Katherine Simon and Brooke Gallo, Co-Presidents of SUNY Kids, have all the information you need to know about the activities this group hosts to engage children in the area, as well as all of the incredible professional and life skills you will gain in the process. Read on to learn more!

What is the mission of your organization?

Brooke: In SUNY Kids, we primarily work with underprivileged and foster children in the local Broome County area and take them on weekly field trips to venues, including but not limited to Chuck E. Cheese, Ross Park Zoo, Midway Lanes, Apple Hills, and Discovery Center. Our goal is to provide a fun and safe experience for these children and serve as their role models. We do this by ensuring that there is a 1:1 adult-to-child ratio.
What skills can students develop as a member of your organization? (ex. leadership opportunities, certifications, public speaking, etc..)

Katherine: Students will become more aware of the community outside of Downtown that is geared to college students. We pick up the children from several bus stops so students are exposed to the larger Binghamton area. Students learn how to work in a group of kids leading activities or offering support to those that may be a little resistant to join an activity. Students also learn patience working with the children and how to be effective listeners.

Brooke: As a member of SUNY Kids, you discover what it means to be a leader. Since the kids range from five to 12 years old, members get experience working with all different types of children. With the 1:1 adult-to-child ratio, members can form strong connections with the children and teach them important life skills and lessons. In SUNY Kids, members get to build communication and social skills while working with the other volunteers and the E-Board members to ensure that every child is enjoying their time.
How can being a member of this organization help students explore career options?

Katherine: Personally, I am pursuing bachelor’s degrees in Social Work as well as Human Development, so SUNY Kids has helped prepare me to work with a diverse group of children. Many of our volunteers have also been Education minors or even just those that enjoy spending time with children. Anybody who likes working with kids will certainly fit right in with our club!

Brooke: Although SUNY Kids is perfect for those looking to go into the education field and for those hoping to work with children in general (e.g., social work), it is for everyone! There are countless jobs that require the same skills that are built in our club. By attending the trips, members can get real-world experience with children and put their leadership skills to the test. It is also great for future educators to determine if they truly enjoy working with children in a non-academic setting.
What networking or mentorship opportunities are available to students in this organization?

Katherine: Our trips are first come, first serve, so students often have the opportunity to meet different students each trip. While we have the E-board on each trip, the student volunteers often change. We also try to have a couple events each year for volunteers to meet each other. For example, last year, we had a Paint-a-Pumpkin event for the E-board and volunteers to meet.

Brooke: As co-presidents, Katherine Simon and I work closely with the Broome County Department of Social Services who not only refer the children to us but also aid us with any issues that may arise.
How has membership of this organization influenced your personal experience at Binghamton University?

Katherine: I have been a part of the club since I entered Binghamton in 2020 and have enjoyed seeing many of the kids grow up and even age out of the program as they entered middle school. For much of my life, I knew I wanted to work with children, but through SUNY Kids I began to focus on pursuing a career in school social work. Many of the children have difficult lives at home, so serving as a support to them was important to me.

Brooke: SUNY Kids continues to be one of my favorite parts about being a Binghamton University student as we get to touch the hearts of children who are less fortunate than others. Serving as their role models and being a stable figure in their lives is truly a special feeling. I am working towards becoming an English teacher (I am an English major and Education minor) and absolutely love working with kids, so I was immediately drawn to SUNY Kids’ mission. I have met so many great members and am fortunate to be a part of a dedicated E-Board. Being a leader of a group of great kids and students and actively making a difference in these children’s lives is what makes it all worth it.
Are there any eligibility requirements to join this organization? If so, please include them below.

Katherine: Anyone can sign up for a trip! We just require background check paperwork that is sent to us from the Department of Social Services who puts us in contact with the children before students can volunteer with us.

Brooke: We also ask for pictures of either their state or student ID to have on file.
How can interested students get connected with you?

Katherine: It is best to add us on B-Engaged to get our weekly emails! If you have any questions, our email is sunykids@binghamtonsa.org and our Instagram is @sunykidsbing
By Erin Hansen
Erin Hansen Career Education and Outreach Specialist