As Anthony Meyer’s three sons grew older, he realized that other people, besides himself and his wife, had an influence on their lives. He saw that coaches, teachers, and others were positively impacting them and decided that he wanted to volunteer to have a similar influence on others. This led Anthony Meyer to Reach Out & Read Kansas City.
Because he worked near Children’s Mercy Hospital, he reached out to them to see how he could be involved. They recommended that he become a volunteer reader in their Pediatric Care Clinic as part of the Reach Out and Read KC program. He began reading to kids during his lunch hour and still does weekly. Meyer has read for almost 14 years and served on our Community Council for 7 years. His dedication and passion are what help make our program succeed.
When I joined him for lunch, he brought along The Cat in the Hat. He began by stating that he loved The Cat in the Hat because it is a fun and engaging story. Then he demonstrated his favorite part were Thing One and Thing Two enter and the cat asks, “Would you like to shake hands with Thing One & Thing Two?” Meyer held out his hand to shake mine, as he does with the kids he reads to in the clinic.
Meyer is a master of making stories come alive in the waiting room. Recently, he recalls reading one of his favorites, The Snow Day, to two boys, Amot and Avat. He replaced “Peter”, the main character’s name, with their own. By doing this, he personalized the story for them and they were engaged the entire time. As they left the clinic, Meyer heard them exclaim to their parent, “there he is, the man who read to us!”.
By modeling interactive and engaging reading practices for parents, he hopes that they emulate them at home. While most families do enjoy his reading (he has even had parents take pictures of him reading to their child) he does encounter parents who are not interested in watching. While this can be hard, he says that the families that do appreciate it outnumber those who don’t and it reminds him how important it is to read with kids in the clinics.
Meyer also notes that reading in the clinics not only benefits the kids but himself as well. He talks about the numerous times he’s been reading to a child, begins to laugh, and can’t stop. “I enjoy reading as much as the kids enjoy being read to,” says Meyer. It’s a great way to spend his lunch hour and part of the reason he’s been a volunteer reader for so long, he is able to help show the importance of reading while having fun. He says, “It helps the parents, helps the child and helps me too”.
Thank you, Anthony, for being an extraordinary volunteer and supporter of RORKC!