Evangeline DeVol, the founder of an RV-based learning program called NEST, is reflected in the mirror while sifting through paperwork as Lacy Walker, a paid tutor and teacher at a local high school, works with a fourth grader inside the RV in Batavia, Ohio, on Oct. 21, 2020. NEST is based in Loveland, Ohio, about 30 minutes west of Batavia, and as the program continues to grow, and face on-going challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic, DeVol is looking for Walker and other volunteers to take on more responsibilities. 

Take the Time

NEST, which stands for Nutrition, Education, Safety, and Transformation, is a non-profit community learning center based out of mobile RVs in Loveland, Ohio, where founder, Evangeline DeVol, and other volunteers work closely with families in low-income neighborhoods.

DeVol likes to call the kids who come for help with their homework her “world changers.” She believes if volunteers take the time to come and make a connection with these kids and help to fill in holes of education, the kids have a real opportunity to reach their full potential and change the world, even in the smallest ways. As NEST relies on building close relationships with families and the kids it helps, caution surrounding the coronavirus pandemic has forced NEST to adjust while still trying to remain consistent.

MacArthur Park is one of four suburban apartment complexes in Loveland where NEST has built relationships with families over the last four years since the program began in the summer of 2016. Zebulon Park is a rural apartment complex in Batavia, Ohio, on the edge of Appalachia, where NEST just started visiting in the fall of 2020. This story looks at the on-going relationships between education, families and kids living below the poverty level, and volunteers who offer their time to help.

(See this story published in America Reimagined)

A school bus slows down to drop kids off in as Evangeline DeVol, center, waits in the parked NEST RV for the kids to come for help with homework at Zebulon Park Apartments in Batavia, Ohio on Oct. 21, 2020. The relationship between NEST, the schools, and the parents is essential for the learning program to function effectively.

Marygrace, a site manager, works with Braydon, a first grader, on math homework at MacArthur Park in Loveland, Ohio on Oct. 14, 2020. Braydon and his brothers, Christopher and Andre, come to NEST nearly every day for help with school work.

Evelyn's scooter and jacket are left behind next to a broken down truck while she works on homework. Scooters, bicycles, jackets, backpacks, and food are often left on the ground when NEST leaves.

Evelyn, second grade, comes to read chapter books like Magic Tree House after she finishes home work on her own in Loveland, Ohio, on Oct. 28, 2020. The kids that come to NEST often try take off their masks as they feel comfortable in their own neighborhoods.

Marygrace hands food bags to Evelyn and Andre before NEST leaves for the day in Loveland, Ohio, on Oct. 14, 2020. Whether kids, or even parents, finish home work for the day they are given a free food bag designed to last a couple of days. NEST's funding used to purchase all the food, though since the COVID-19 pandemic and the government's CARES Act, the Loveland Schools System has provided bags since this year's summer program started.

Carisa, far right, grandmother of Braydon, Christopher, and Andre, watches her kids as they play with friends in Loveland, Ohio, on Oct. 22, 2020. "We trust NEST, they do a good job with our kids. I always like to keep an eye on them from my apartment here because the kids run around so much and cars fly through the parking lot here," Carisa said.

Kaleb, fourth grade, returns to do homework after grabbing a snack in at Zebulon Park Apartments in Batavia, Ohio, on Oct. 21, 2020. NEST has only been coming to his apartment complex for a few weeks now, and nearly each time he has shown up barefoot.

DeVol drives the RV back to NEST's Batavia office, before driving home for the day and starting all over again tomorrow in Batavia, Ohio, on Oct. 21, 2020. "We’re hoping all of our volunteers realize that all of us leave a piece of us behind, every single day," said DeVol. "We desperately want our volunteers to take a piece of these kids away with them because our kids are going to take a piece of them away too, we want it to be the best piece possible."

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