Tag Archives: volunteering in kansas city

Carol Whitehead

Celebrating Our 20th Anniversary: We Love Our Volunteers!

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.

 

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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”

 

 

 

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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.

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Hooked On Books Challenge 2017 Was a Huge Success!

IMG_0666This year, the Hooked On Books Challenge collected over 24,000 gently used books from   20 elementary schools on both sides of the state line and Rainy Day Books.   Congratulations to Manchester Park Elementary, from the Olathe School District, for collecting the most books, an average of 12 books per student! These gently used books will be distributed throughout our partner clinics and other literacy agencies.

 

 

 

On March 25th, 52 volunteers joined us at the Kansas City Star to help sort books. Each book was labeled with a “Hooked On Books” Sticker and sorted into an appropriate reading level category.

 

Over 11,000 books will be sent to RORKC’s partner clinics for children in the waiting rooms.  The rest were donated to other great Kansas City organizations, such as the Urban Scholastic Center, COR Bookmobile, KCK Public Libraries and more.

 

 

 

 

 

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A special thank you to the 20 Junior League of Kansas City volunteers for their help sorting and labeling books, to The Kansas City Star for storage and printing, and to the 18 Cerner volunteers for helping us deliver these books to the great organizations. Thank you to all that helped us make this year’s Hooked On Books Challenge a success!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anthony Meyer

Celebrating our 20th Anniversary: An Interview with Anthony Meyer

Anthony MeyerAs 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!

 

 

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CAPS Students Volunteer Reading Project

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Last semester, four high school students became volunteer readers at our partner clinics.  Once a week, these students from the Northland Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) medical program, spent their morning reading to children and surveying how they felt about reading.  These students are interested in a career in the medical field and spent their semester participating in a service learning project.

 

 

The four volunteers found that a large majority of the children they read to came from primarily Spanish speaking households.  This presented challenges for the group, but they realized that these children, even if they only knew some English,  enjoyed sharing books with them in the waiting room.

 

 

 

 

Additionally, the CAPS students created a project to research the effects of reading on children’s well-being.    They presented the children with a mood scale before and after they read to assess if reading had any impact. Overall they found that children’s mood increased after sharing a story in the clinic waiting room.  mood scale CAPS blog post

 

When asked about their favorite memory from volunteer reading at the clinics, they said, “being able to see all the kids’ smiles and realizing that reading can make a huge difference in their life.” Thank you Northland CAPS volunteers!

 

 

 

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Reach Out & Read KC’S 2016: Year in Review

As 2016 draws to a close, we are looking back at some of our favorite memories and awesome volunteers.  Because of all our supporters, Reach out and Read KC was able to accomplish new milestones and reach even more families in 2016.

 

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Our Hooked On Books book drive collected over 24,000 books from 20 elementary schools in 2016.  Here are just a few of our dedicated volunteers helping us sort books!

 

 

 

 

 

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From February 29th through March 4th Reach Out & Read KC celebrated Dr. Seuss week! To honor the late Dr. Seuss, many local celebrities read to children in our clinic waiting rooms! Read more about this fun celebration. (from left to right: Karli Ritter & Mark Alford from Fox4 KC, and Ann Goodrich, a volunteer for RORKC)

 

 

 

 

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On March 4, we held our annual Green Eggs & Ham breakfast.  Here we have Bryan Busby and Neville Miller from KMBC -TV reading to some of our youngest breakfast guests.  This year, because we have something extra special to celebrate in 2017, we are replacing our Green Eggs and Ham event with our 20th Birthday Breakfast! View more information about our 20th Birthday Breakfast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our annual Books on Tap fundraiser took place on October 19th at the 1900 Building.  It was a record- setting success raising over $9,000 for Reach Out and Read KC! This translates into providing over 1,800 books and literacy advice to children in KC.   For more pictures from this fun event, look through our photo album.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On December 2nd, 2016, Reach Out and Read Kansas City reached a new milestone for our program.  We delivered our 1 millionth book during this four month old’s well-child visit at the University of Kansas Medical Center Pediatric Clinic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reach Out and Read KC YIRsquarerecently delivered our annual report for the fiscal year 2015-2016.  We had a record breaking year with RORKC providing 83,763 books to children at over 51 clinics.   View the full report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to all of our volunteers who made this year monumental for Reach Out & Read KC! Below are only a few of the many who volunteered their time to help our organization succeed.

 

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Want to help Reach Out & Read KC continue to provide books and a foundation for success to over 29,000 children in 2017? Please consider giving a gift this holiday season.

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The Value of Our Volunteers

Volunteers are vital to Reach Out and Read KC’s success. With an in-office staff of only four, it is no surprise that RORKC relies heavily on volunteer work and donations. Our volunteer force is over 100 people, and growing. Last year, these ROR superstars clocked 4347 hours of work. This is equivalent to $102,415.12 of volunteer labor (according to Independent Sector’s estimate of the value of volunteer time). This is a significant amount for which we could not be more grateful. Still, these numbers only reflect part of the effect our volunteers have on our program and on the community. The work they do is varied in valuable in ways that cannot be measured in dollars and cents. So let’s take a closer look at some of their work:

 

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Volunteer reader Anne reads a Dr. Seuss book in an ROR clinic waiting room.

Our regular volunteers include clinic volunteers and office volunteers.

Volunteer readers assist clinics in creating a literacy-rich waiting room environment by sharing stories with children waiting for their doctor’s appointments. This models behaviors for families, like dialogic reading, and gives the kiddos something fun and positive to do while waiting (and it gives the parents/caretakers a short break!). This work isn’t just nice: It is one of many ways to encourage children to read, and this behavior is absolutely critical to their development.

 

 

Office volunteer Allie labels books for well-child visits.

Office volunteers do various tasks as-needed, including stuffing  and stamping envelopes for mailings, putting stickers on books (to color-code them for specific age groups), and database entry.

 

 

One-time volunteers assist us with office tasks as well, often sorting or labeling books. Groups from various community organizations or corporations visit our office to help us get through the large number of books that come through our office on their way to one of our 52 clinics.

 

Community volunteers label and sort Hooked on Books donations.

Event volunteers allow us to hold successful annual fundraisers and book drives. Last March, we had volunteers sort and haul over 24,000 books from our yearly Hooked on Books school book drive and competition. These books are used as waiting-room books in our clinics, and over half of the books were donated to other local agencies and schools. Volunteers also set up and cleaned up after our Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast, and directed attendees to the event space.

 

Committee volunteers share their professional expertise and help us successfully run our program. This involves event planning, serving on our council, and much more.

 

Because of our volunteers, we are able to fill KC kids’ lives with stories and prepare them for success in school, and eventually in college and careers. These books give them the developmental boost that all babies need as well as fond memories of imaginative stories shared with loved ones. Because of our volunteers, we were able to reach 76,000 children all over the Kansas City area just last year. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for RORKC, contact Jenny.

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Hooked on Books Volunteers Needed

Hooked On Books collection day is Tuesday, February 23, from 9am-2pm. We are looking for volunteers with strong backs for lifting boxes of books and large vehicles for transporting them (up to 20 copypaper sized boxes at a time.) Volunteers will be assigned to pick up books at schools located throughout greater KC (from DeSoto to the West, Overland Park to the South, Raymore to the East, and Smithville to the North,) and deliver them to the KC Star loading dock in the Crossroads.

Contact us for details.

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We’ve got boxes full of books!

 

We also need help on Saturday, March 12 from 9am-3pm and Saturday, March 19 9am-noon at the KC Star when we label, sort, and pack up our “Hooked on Books” books.

Click here to sign up for a 3 hour shift.

 

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Hooked on Books 2016 is Underway!

Hooked on Books is back for 2016!

Between January 11 and February 19, schools throughout the metropolitan area will collect new and gently used books for disadvantaged children ages newborn to 14. The books will then be redistributed to schools and other nonprofit organizations.

All students at participating schools receive a bookmark and coupon for a free kids pizza at California Pizza Kitchen, and the winning classroom is entered into a drawing to win a pizza party from CPK, along with bragging rights, and a $500 gift certificate from Scholastic Books! Winners will be announced at our annual Green Eggs and Ham breakfast on March 4.

There is still the chance to get involved! If you would like to volunteer as a school liaison, contact Jenny at Jhorsley@kumc.edu. For nonprofit organizations and schools serving at-risk children, apply to be a book recipient. For further information, visit our event page.