A’s & Aces by Sarah Koehler

Overview: How Important is Service and How Does It Relate to Me?
Volunteer service work has existed for years through such organizations as AmeriCorps, United Way, Habitat for Humanity, and innumerable other local and global organizations. The general workforce continues to lend a helping hand each year, with approximately 26% of the total United States population volunteering annually for the past five years (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013). With over 60,000 reported U.S. citizens contributing their time, money, and effort, it is no surprise that service work has become an emerging foundation of American society. In fact, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama launched a call to service—United We Serve. Created in the summer of 2009, the campaign initiated a way to “create a sustained, collaborative, and focused effort to meet community needs and make service a way of life for all Americans” (Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, http://www.whitehouse.gov). Volunteer service work indefinitely creeps into each citizen’s life—whether by being a server, direct, or indirect recipient.
Tulane established their very own call to service in 2006 as part of a renewal plan after the detrimental effects of Hurricane Katrina. As an incoming freshman in the Fall of 2010, the Center for Public Service was always available to me. The public service requirement was already standardized and set in place, leaving me to simply choose from a great variety of different opportunities. Upon completing my first tier of 20-hour service learning via teaching English as a Second Language, I knew I wanted an internship to fulfill my second tier requirement. I began researching the ins and outs of CPS internships at the conclusion of my sophomore year, carefully examining both the benefits and time commitments. Taking on an internship, rather than the typical service-learning component, seemed both more challenging and more beneficial to my undergraduate career.
I learned about my internship position from one of the fairs offered by CPS. Despite inquiring about many other organizations, I was primarily intrigued by A’s & Aces the entire time. This organization seemed to combine two of my greatest hobbies: tennis and tutoring; and the job description put me behind the scenes within the organization working towards local university outreach—a position I was completely ready to undertake.

© http://www.serve.gov President and First Lady, Barack and Michelle Obama, volunteer with their United We Serve campaign. This campaign seeks to involve even more citizens in volunteer service work.

©A’s & Aces The kids take it to the courts to experience and promote positive leadership, fun, and a healthy lifestyle.

Local Universities :
● Southern University at New
Orleans (SUNO) **
● Dillard University **
● Xavier University
● Tulane University
● Loyola University
● University of New Orleans
**Involved with Summer Literacy & Tennis Camps

Tennis Serves & Literacy: What is A’s & Aces?
Co-founded in 2008 by David Schumacher and Dr. Anna Monhartova, A’s & Aces began as a means to embrace the student-athlete model and instill those values within the children of the city. With a mission to “provide academic assistance, life skills and tennis to New Orleans public school children,” A’s & Aces addresses several problems prevalent in New Orleans, ranging from illiteracy to violence to obesity. During the school year, A’s & Aces provides in-school, after-school, and weekend programs for the benefit of the children. Each program offers a literacy and tennis curriculum paired with life skills instruction to build positive self-esteem and initiate healthy lifestyle choices. The organization also offers literacy and tennis camps during the summer. These camps last from 9am – 3pm, Monday through Friday, for 6 weeks of the summer—providing a curriculum similar to that of the school programs. Currently, camps are offered at Dillard University,
Pontchartrain Park/SUNO, and the Atkinson Stern Tennis Center. By serving the children of New Orleans, A’s & Aces helps instill positive body image and the importance of physical fitness while simultaneously improving literacy. Each of the four program types offered throughout the year provide an outlet for success both during and after school hours. Studies show a positive correlation between extracurricular activities and overall outlooks of life; and A’s & Aces certainly benefits the youth of New Orleans as evidenced by countless testimonials. As a nonprofit organization, A’s & Aces is privileged to have the fiscal support of corporate sponsors, individual donors, government grants, foundation grants, and as a United Way Partner Agency. It is this financial support combined with the dedication of our staff, coaches, parents, and volunteers that help bring the highest quality programs to these youth.

How Does A’s & Aces Help Me?
As a Program Support Intern, my position within this
organization allows me to brainstorm strategies to help A’s & Aces improve and grow as an educational fitness program. I am primarily dedicated to creating a partnership with nearly all local universities in the area. The student-athlete dynamic is extremely prevalent through college sports teams, and creating a link between college athletes and the organization will show our youth that success is indeed attainable in education and physical fitness. Graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology, this internship truly helps me embrace the lifestyle and needs of New Orleans youth. As a participant observer, I can see how these children flourish in academics and tennis thanks to the hundreds of volunteers and countless hours of work they provide.

A’s & Aces Awards & Merits
● ”Outstanding Commitment Award”
–Clinton Global Initiative
● “Educational Merit Award”
–Southern Tennis Association
● “Angel Award”
–Blue Cross & Blue Shield of LA
● ”Program of the Year”
–Louisiana Tennis Association
● ”Outstanding Work on Behalf of
New Orleans Youth”
–N.O. City Council Proclamations

©A’s & Aces Children work in the classroom
to improve their literacy skills.

“A’s & Aces will assist promising
student-athletes in both education
and athletic development, paving a
path to college”
—President Bill Clinton
● Bureau of Labor Statistics. Economic New Release: Volunteering in the United States, 2013.
● Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation. 2012. http://www.whitehouse.gov
● United We Serve. Corporation for National and Community Service, 2010. http://www.serve.gov
● A’s & Aces. 2012. http://www.asandaces.org

“I saw something I had never seen in my 10-year life. I saw young kids, Caucasian and African American, running all over the place hitting balls and having fun . . . Tennis at that young age taught me respect, discipline, and kept me off the streets . . .
Since Katrina a great tennis program, A’s & Aces, has been put together to help develop junior tennis players and get them to college. It is something that is needed in the City of New Orleans”
–Alan Green
Head Tennis Coach, Xavier University

© A’s & Aces Our logo, along with our name, showcases the importance of physical fitness and academic success.

“From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.”
–Arthur Ashe

Aside | This entry was posted in Student Reflections. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s