Volunteers are vital to the mission of Reach Out and Read Kansas City. With a small staff, we rely on volunteers to help make our program successful. In celebration of National Volunteer Month, we’re highlighting 3 volunteers that make our program great. Sally, Carol, and Justin are volunteer readers at different partner clinics throughout KC. Our volunteer readers help create a literacy-rich environment by sharing books with children and modeling good reading behaviors for their families.
Sally began volunteering 15 years ago after retiring from her job as an English teacher. While looking for a volunteer opportunity, her friend suggested she get involved with RORKC. Since then, she’s been sharing books with families at CMH Special Care Clinic a few times a week.
On the importance of making reading fun: During my visit to the clinic to meet Sally, I was able to watch her in action. This morning the clinic was busy and there were two boys sitting near the reading table. When Sally approached them, they told her they didn’t like to read. That is until Sally brought over 3 different books, one about the heroes of 9/11, one about different cars, and one about the ocean. By the time they were called into their doctor, they were enthralled in their books. Sally works hard to make sure that every child finds a book that they can enjoy in the waiting room. “Reading is important and should be fun, that’s why I tried to give each of the boys a few options,” Sally told me.
Why she enjoys volunteering: “Being a retired English teacher, I think its important to share about early literacy and I also enjoy meeting new families in the clinic and get to continue to build relationships with them as they come repeatedly over the years”
About 6 years ago, Carol, retired from teaching Kindergarten and was looking for a volunteer opportunity that involved children and literacy. She came across an ad for a volunteer orientation at RORKC and signed up! Since then, she’s been a dedicated reader at a few of our clinics, setting up the reading table. Carol also writes the Spanish translation in English books underneath the words because she sees a large number of families who need bilingual books where she volunteers.
Favorite Book to Share: Green Eggs & Ham
On the importance of reading: “As a kindergarten teacher for many years, I’m aware of how important early literacy and school readiness are. I believe that the involvement of community volunteers in clinic settings, where the authority of the physicians adds importance, is very effective.”
Why she continues to volunteer with RORKC: “Recently a newly-arrived immigrant family who spoke only Swahili came in so their youngest child could get a physical to enroll in school, the person accompanying them explained. Although the sweet little girl was very solemn and shy, she was attracted to the reading table and understood through gestures that she could choose a book and a toy to keep. It’s heartwarming moments like these that make me grateful for this opportunity!”
Justin is a volunteer reader at Samuel Rodgers Health Clinic. He first became involved with RORKC about 10 years ago when he was looking for a way to give back to his community. He came across an ad for volunteer reading and the rest is history.
Favorite book to share: The Foot Book (or anything by Dr. Seuss)
On reading in the clinic: “Sometimes kids can be hesitant or nervous, but then I really try to engage them and interact with them and the story and then they really usually start to open up and really enjoy it”
On why he enjoys volunteer reading: “I want to set a good example for parents in the clinics. Before they even see the doctor they can have a positive impact in the waiting room. It’s just a great way for them to experience fun reading. That is my main goal is to interact with them and have them engaged in the stories. I want them to have a good experience and demonstrate that reading is fun. Plus I have a great time. Normally I don’t want to leave, especially if it’s a busy day!”
Thank you to Sally, Carol, and Justin for volunteering their time to share books and their love of reading with children in KC!
Interested in volunteering with Reach Out and Read Kansas City? From volunteer reading to serving on an event committee, we have plenty of opportunities for those trying to make a difference in the community. For more information about volunteering, contact Jenny.