A Caring Force in Her Community
Gabriella Zaso ’16
Psychology major supports students at The Boys and Girls Club of Allentown
The Boys and Girls Club of Allentown has long been a stabilizing force in the community—a welcoming beacon of support for families who need it most. An internship at The Club gave psychology major Gabriella Zaso ’16 personal perspective on the power of kind gestures, large and small.
Zaso knew that she wanted to work with kids, especially those faced with the challenges of living in a low socioeconomic area, but she wasn’t sure which age group. Interning at The Club’s Sixth Street and Teen Center locations allowed Zaso to support children ranging in age from four to 17.
“Tutoring a student for 15 minutes can help them pass their exam; giving a family a bag of food can keep them from being hungry over the weekend; and sitting down with a student and simply talking to them—just genuinely showing that you care—can prevent self harm, improve self esteem, or maybe even just make them feel good.” — Gabriella Zaso ’16
From literacy support to fitness programs and connections to local food banks, Zaso learned the broad scope of resources The Club provides within the community. Zaso assisted in The Club’s library, gym, and tech room, and tutored kids who were having problems in their classes. She also led a discussion group with teen girls where they could discuss topics important to them such as body image and self esteem, family struggles and relationship problems.
Offering a meal, homework help or a listening ear—Zaso learned that a little could do a lot. “Tutoring a student for 15 minutes can help them pass their exam; giving a family a bag of food can keep them from being hungry over the weekend; and sitting down with a student and simply talking to them—just genuinely showing that you care—can prevent self harm, improve self esteem, or maybe even just make them feel good,” she says.
Drawing from her coursework, Zaso says she was able to dissect the root causes for the obstacles these children face and empathize with their everyday struggles.
“There are so many aspects that go into why children and teens behave the way that they do,” Zaso explains. “Having learned about families, parenting styles, environmental influences, and developmental stages helped me to better understand the thought process and actions of the kids and what may be going on from a deeper level (internally) that is causing their negative behavior.”
Zaso plans to pursue a career path in the non-profit sector and continue to play a positive role in the lives of young people in her community.