Lake Zurich students turn free tutoring project into larger community outreach
A tutoring project launched early in the pandemic by a trio of Lake Zurich High School seniors has grown into a full-fledged community service effort.
When businesses and schools began closing down in March, 2020, Daniel Kalarical, 18, heard about parents losing jobs, students struggling with remote learning and people needing food. Kalarical wanted to help, so he and his best friend, Aiman Naqvi, came up with the idea of offering free tutoring.
Starting from scratch, they built a website and promoted the program through school counselors, in the community and on social media. Their nonprofit organization, Tutor4Service, became official.
Fellow senior Holly Ryan, 18, joined the team early in the process and is the community outreach director. Ryan assists with advertising, social media and outreach projects. The mission of Tutor4Service "is to enhance education by providing free tutoring in communities and use our teaching abilities as an act of community service."
They have a team of 23 volunteer tutors for 30 students in all grade levels. The virtual sessions run 30 to 60 minutes in a range of topics, covering skills as basic as sounding out syllables to the complexities of precalculus and chemistry.
"Knowing that I've helped someone or brought someone joy inspires me to serve others, no matter the circumstances. Tutor4Service allows me to put a smile on the faces of many people around me and have a positive impact on other people's lives," Kalarical said.
"These are the types of activities in which I truly find meaning, which is why Tutor4Service is especially significant to me."
The group is not confined to one-on-one time on their laptops. Last summer, they went door-to-door to drop off food drive fliers. After they collected the food, members delivered items to SOS Children's Villages of Illinois in Chicago; Shelter, Inc. in Arlington Heights; and St. Francis de Sales food pantry in Lake Zurich.
They also organized an "Educational and Essential Supplies Fundraiser," collecting $2,800 through donations. They purchased 100 books for children, masks, paper and hygiene products, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. Foster homes, homeless shelters, memory care and assisted living homes were the recipients.
Tutor4Service also provides free virtual music concerts to nursing home residents and children's hospital patients. Recorded videos by student and adult musicians are offered to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, Shriners and Rush children's hospitals, Friendship Village in Schaumburg, Arboria senior living in Long Grove, and Auberge at Lake Zurich.
"Tutor4Service's mission, and everything we aim to do, truly brings me so much joy. I can give back to my community in a way I never dreamed I could -- with an organization set up and run by my friends and I," Ryan said.
"I've found myself in love with learning the lives and experiences of other people and giving with no strings attached. I'm so honored to work with a team of friends who selflessly put themselves out there every day to give back to our community and toward a greater good."
Tutor4Service has accumulated more than 500 hours of service through tutoring and community service projects. These efforts helped them earn the Presidential Volunteer Service Award (Gold) for having more than 250 service hours.
Plans are in place for Tutor4Service to continue even after the trio heads off to college. They are prepping a new team to continue with the mission.
"I would like to add how proud I am of everyone who is part of or has supported Tutor4Service," Naqvi said. "Being a part of something bigger than yourself is so important, and I get to witness that (with) each lesson.
"I never thought this organization would grow to be of this stature, and I'm so proud to be a part of it."
For information, visit tutor4service.org.