The name is extremely fitting. Buckeye R.E.A.C.H. Often names of programs are just names. I have been a part of many educational programs in my four years at OSU and usually the program names are just in place to identify the program. Sometimes the name is motivational or maybe just describes what the program does. However, it’s never a way of life. Except for Buckeye REACH. Relationships and Education in Action through Community and Hope.
Relationships and Education in Action. These words are the ingredients of REACH. They’re what we do on early mornings at our various sites. They mean excitement, exhaustion, and hard work. They are what makes it Ohio State’s premier community program. The relationships in REACH are not surface level. Over the past four years, I have been able to develop deep bonds and have truly made friends with some of the young men in Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility. I have been able to see them grow from gang members with crime on their minds to scholars with college on their mind. Furthermore, they have seen me grow as well, and that’s what truly makes these relationships valuable. The combination of these relationships with our interactive educational activities is what make these ingredients perfect. During REACH the men we work grow a great amount academically. Pen Pal letters allow them to develop better vocabulary and writing skills. Book clubs allow them to explore novels they wouldn’t have thought to pick up. And films allow them to critique many of society’s flaws. This combination is the Action. Because of our relationships, the education portion is extremely joyful. This joy allows the development of a love between OSU students and Circleville youth, as well as a love for Buckeye REACH. With this love, I have witnessed mindsets and lives changed from those in college and those behind bars.
In its early years, I did not understand why Community and Hope were a part of the acronym. Honestly, I thought it was there to make the name sound more appeasing. However, as the program develops, I see that my initial thought cannot be further from the truth. The people who make up BuckeyeREACH are truly a community. From Dr. Patty to the freshman who just wants to help out, to the youth who has been a part of the program for three years, everyone feels a part of this community. This can be seen by the great amount of laughter and smiles, or the fact that everyone (volunteers included) has nickname. Lastly, Buckeye REACH gives everyone in the community hope. After our time together, the youth are left with a sense of hope that they too can be in college like us. In addition, many volunteers leave with the hope that many of the young men we meet will lead a good life once they are released. This hope is what keeps me coming back. The hope that the dear friends I have met in there will eventually become leaders of this nation is why BuckeyeREACH will be my fondest college memory. The name is perfect. And as we further build Relationships, Educate the youth with Action and provide a sense of Community and Hope, Buckeye REACH will be perfect too.