A non-profit dedicated to assisting homeless children will celebrate the work of their volunteers and offer a scholarship to a former student.
School on Wheels will be at the Santa Monica Bay Women’s Club this weekend honoring over 200 volunteers who go out into communities every week helping homeless children with their school work and studies. Additionally, they’ll be surprising formerly homeless student Dilan Oezkan with $1,000 scholarship. He graduated high school with a 4.4 GPA and is now on the brink of choosing a college.
Oezkan was first introduced to School on Wheels when he lived in a motel from ages 8 to 10, the Costa Mesa Motor Inn.
Before the motel, his childhood included several stints of stays at hotels, homeless shelters and sleeping on the street. At 15, when he did find stable housing, his mother kicked him out over a disagreement.
Despite these hardships — and jumping between seven elementary and six middle schools during this time — Oezkan kept his head up.
He knew academics could be a way to a better life, and it has been. He’s now choosing between UC Berkeley and UCLA with a double major in Political Science and History.
He credits the non-profit with creating the foundation of his educational goals, helping Oezkan to keep his eyes on the future during difficult times.
“School on Wheels provided me with school supplies and a pair of tutors I will remember for the rest of my life,” Oezkan said. “These tutors really were the ones who created my drive to succeed academically. I give these tutors credit for helping create the goals I did to achieve higher education, which I have. This would not have been possible without School on Wheels.”
Sinead Chilton, Director of Development for over 15 years at the organization, says Oezkan’s story is a special one, made in part by special volunteers.
“It’s not children’s fault they become homeless,” Chilton said. “It’s tough for a kid to deal with. We tutor families living in the streets, cars and vans. We see an increase in families having nowhere left to turn. Dilan is a testament to our volunteers. It’s why we’re celebrating them. Even if you meet with someone for a short period of time, kids will remember that positive relationship.”
School on Wheels Volunteer Appreciation Brunch at Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club takes place Sunday, April 14 1 p.m. – 3 p.m