Get Involved with H.E.L.P.

   Library | Posted on September 14, 2016

In 2015, students from Andrews University (AU) created an initiative called the Human Empowerment Life Project (H.E.L.P.) that partnered with the James White Library, represented by Sarah Kimakwa, in taking a literacy program designed to elevate the learning outcomes of public elementary school students in Benton Harbor through a reading program.  As a result of the great need this intervention has been expanded and on September 9, 2016, the initiative held a training and orientation session where the first batch of 56 volunteers were trained to begin the 2016/17 cycle in the Benton Harbor Area Schools (BHAS). 

Larry Onsager, dean of libraries, and Dean Thorpe of the School of Distance Education and International Partnerships represented AU administration and encouraged the group.  Ms Patricia Robinson - Director of Grants and Curriculum from Benton Harbor Area Schools was present and expressed her joy at the participation of the H.E.L.P. in the school district and reminded all present that this was not a mere literacy program, but rather, each participant was embarking on a program that would change lives.  This theme was earlier emphasized by Dean Thorpe.  Cleather Nichols, Student support services of the BHAS was also present.  

The leaders of H.E.L.P., Carlisle Sutton, Leila Celestin, Deslynne Roberts, Alexander Raney, Paris Rollins, Jace Mckinney and Edgar Burgara, with the entire team, are committed to improving the literacy and values of the Benton Harbor community and seek to bring positively change in the lives of boys and girls. The motto of H.E.L.P. is "Improving educational outcomes for boys and girls one grade at a time."

Using a values-based curriculum, volunteers will read with and interact with in the classroom with students in the Benton Harbor public schools.  Mission minded, community driven volunteers were asked to commit 4 hours per month to help children living in poverty learn to read.  As team members, the volunteers will interact with BHAS students every other Friday. However, there will be a group present in the classroom every week.  Other training sessions for new volunteers have been planned.  H.E.L.P. is hoping to have the personnel and resources to be able to enter all the grades 1 - 3 classrooms in the school district and work with approximate 624 children. 

If you are interested in joining the team or supporting the effort, you may contact H.E.L.P. at or

   Carlisle Sutton