At a time when students needed help the most during the pandemic, Katie Hughes helped ensure homeless and housing-insecure students staying at the Red Roof Inn had the resources they needed to focus on their education.
“We tried to supplement the things that the state or the Christina School District couldn’t take care of,” said Hughes, the outreach committee chair for the Newark Area Welfare Committee.
Hughes often visited the tutoring center at the South College Avenue motel, which served around 30 students per day, to buy groceries and clothes for families. NAWC also purchased an air filter for the classroom, which opened in the Fall of 2020.
“This gave the families at the Red Roof Inn the opportunity to stay on track with their school work,” Hughes said.
When a woman at the motel wanted to get her driver’s license, Hughes and a friend helped tutor her for the driving test.
“I admired this person and the fact they really worked hard to do better for their children,” Hughes said. “Unfortunately, she was just in a really bad economic situation.”
Hughes got involved with the Newark Area Welfare Committee several years ago when she began volunteering with the holiday food program at First Presbyterian Church in Newark. Each year, NAWC puts together boxes of food for families right before Christmas.
Hughes said the organization works with many people from the Hudson Center or the Newark Empowerment Center, helping people pay for rent or utilities.
Social workers from Newark schools will often ask Hughes and NAWC for help buying clothes for students in need.
“There’s not really one way to define what our role is,” Hughes said. “It’s about being available when the need arises.”