While many children Jonece’s age prefer playing video games or watching reality TV during their free time, 12 year old Jonece Layne has been of service both in her community and overseas. She started volunteering at Erickson Retirement Communities/Riderwood Village 6 years ago at the age of 6, logging over 650 volunteer hours at that facility. She was recognized by that organization as volunteer of the year in 2006, having volunteered the most hours and being the youngest volunteer.
Her desire to share her knowledge with others, and to see others excel, prompted her to be a peer tutor in her elementary school while she was in the fifth grade. Seeing the educational need at her elementary school, Jonece created a peer tutoring program of her own when she was in Middle School and convinced the Principal of Glenarden Woods Elementary School, the elementary school she attended, to implement the Students Learning and Teaching Every Subject (SLATES) program. She also recruited senior students from Glenarden Woods as peer tutors. This program has successfully completed one year and has contributed to the increase in the Maryland State Assessment (MSA) scores at GlenardenWoods.
She has also been involved in an overseas outreach program. She tutored primary students in a rural school of a developing country in South America for one week in June 2006 and June 2008, and has donated a Math trophy yearly since 2006 to the highest scoring primary student in Mathematics at that school, who will be matriculating to high school. This score is based on the country’s national secondary examination. She uses her allowance to purchase the trophies.
Jonece has always showed a sense of caring and compassion for others sat a very young age. This coupled with her love of helping others and her maturity beyond her years brought her to Riderwood as a volunteer at age six. This has distinguished her volunteer efforts from children of similar age. At Riderwood she has brought cheer to the lives of the elderly on a weekly basis, by serenading them with soothing classical music at the piano. She assists the activities programming staff by transporting residents to and from activities and helping with the activities. She also does one on one visits with residents. She knocks on the doors of residents and sites. Some of the residents would have otherwise remained in their rooms, but withy encouragement from Jonece they decided to participate and often express their enjoyment at the end of the activities. Participating in these activities encourages the residents to interact with one another, fostering an increase in socialization and living longer healthier lives. They are more inclined to attend subsequent activities independently.
After many years of volunteering at Riderwood, Jonece has cultivated many bonds with the residents. They look forward to her visits and some residents show their appreciation by telephoning her to express their gratitude after her visits and anxiously looking forward to her next visit. She is truly an amazing 12 year old who continues to give unselfishly to her community.