Volunteers Impact Horton’s Kids

By: Kertisha Dixon

In 2020, Caroline Malone graduated from The George Washington University with a desire to work for a community-based organization in Washington, DC, and an eagerness to combat systemic racism and its effect on communities of color. At Horton’s Kids (HK), Malone found the perfect fit as its Senior Development and Volunteer Coordinator. Malone sat down with Kertisha Dixon, a member of the Junior League of Washington (JLW), to discuss HK’s work and how JLW volunteers impact HK.

Dixon: Caroline, can you tell me about the history of HK?

Malone:  Karin Walser founded HK in 1989 with initial goals of taking children from DC’s Wellington Park community on field trips, and providing them with tutors. Ms. Walser soon realized that more comprehensive services were necessary. Today, HK is based in Southwest, Washington, DC, and we provide comprehensive services to empower participants growing up in southeast DC, so that they graduate from high school ready for college, career, and life. We serve students (grades K-12) and their families in Ward 8’s Wellington Park and Stanton Oaks communities- just steps away from where the families live. Our services fall into four primary categories: academic tutoring, community and family engagement, health and wellness, and youth development.

Dixon: How do JLW volunteers impact HK?

Malone: JLW volunteers impact HK participants by demonstrating an investment in their success. Volunteers help HK deliver academic, youth development, and basic needs support to children. Pre-pandemic, volunteers built long-term tutoring relationships with our students and accompanied them on field trips exposing them to educational and social events in DC. Post-pandemic, volunteers have been invaluable and innovative in hosting virtual, holiday-themed parties (e.g., Halloween and Easter) for our students. Those parties were and are fantastic outlets and bright spots for participants.

Dixon: If JLW volunteers are not on the HK Committee, can they still support your organization?

Malone: Absolutely. HK recruits volunteers in two cycles – August and January. Cash donations also significantly improve our ability to meet the ever-evolving needs of our students and their families. For example, in early 2020, we used donations to provide in-home Wi-Fi and tablets to our students, helping to ensure their academic success and continued engagement with HK, as the world shifted from in-person to virtual events. We have in-kind drives for critical program supplies year-round. Something we always have a need for is non-perishable food items to stock our emergency pantry, where students and their families obtain items at no cost. Interested persons may contact me via email: Caroline@hortonskids.org, or by phone: 202. 544.5033, ext. 18.

Dixon: Thank you for speaking with me. What do you want readers to know about HK?

Malone: Thank you – and thanks to JLW for their continued commitment to the children and families we serve.  Readers should know that this is an exciting time to follow the trajectory of HK. Our organization is unique in that our staff is constantly looking for ways to expand our reach and improve how we serve our students and their families.  

To volunteer, donate, or learn more about Horton’s Kids, click here