Sunday, September 22, 2013

Making a difference and impact by supporting literacy, mentoring, and volunteering in the community

A few months ago I started researching some volunteer options. I saw something on the City of Alexandria Facebook page about volunteer groups, and who to call to inquire. I contacted a very helpful man who gave me an entire list of volunteer and mentoring possibilities. 

He explained each program in detail to me, and after consideration I decided the one that appealed to me most was a literacy program for kids called Wright to Read

I was told that there was currently a shortage of adults to serve as mentors for young kids through teens. His email had a great catchphrase: “Mentor 1 child….Change 2 lives.”  

His email went on to say, “Discover how just an hour or so a week can make a lasting impact on a child’s future.” “Mentoring is proven to be among the most effective ways to prevent crime, drug abuse, poor school performance, gang involvement and teen pregnancy.  A short amount of an adult’s time can make a long-lasting impact on a child, the community, and the volunteer.”  

The program I chose, Wright to Read, is an educational program which promotes literacy through the tutoring and mentoring of elementary school students and outreach to the Alexandria community. Their goal is to help students learn to read and learn to enjoy reading.

Wright to Read started serving Alexandria students in 1979, and continues to promote literacy in Alexandria through tutoring and mentoring programs and special events such as the Alexandria Story Festival. (More on the Story Festival in a moment.)

Wright to Read recruits, trains, and supports volunteer tutors and mentors who work with elementary school students on reading.  They require that you read for one hour each week with an elementary school student who is referred by his or her teacher.  The students are in grades 1-5.

Volunteer tutors are matched with Alexandria City Public School students who are identified by their teachers as needing help with reading.  The Tutor/Mentor volunteers primarily work with students in the public libraries, and there are also after school reading programs.  In these programs, a group of volunteers tutor at the same time in a specified location.

Wright to Read is a charity that recruits, screens, trains and supports volunteers who tutor elementary students in reading and provide a mentoring relationship.  

This coming weekend, Saturday, September 28, 2013, the 4th Annual Alexandria Story Festival is being held from 10:00 am - 1:00 pm at:
T.C. Williams High School
3330 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22302

 I encourage you to attend, bring your children or grandchildren, and tell others who may be interested. An example of a few of the attractions at Story Festival:

Kaleidoscope for Kids

Arts on the Horizon's The young Spectaculars and the Front Yard Adventures

  Photo: Courtesy of Wright to Read website
 After making the decision to sign up for the program, I attended the mentor orientation, where I filled out paperwork to get started on the process. I am very excited about meeting the child I will be working with, and getting to know him or her.

If you, or someone you know, are interested in becoming a mentor to a child for the Wright to Read Program, you may attend an orientation to learn more.  (A background search and Training are required.)

 I plan on doing follow up posts on my experience with this organization. I believe in the mission and am really excited about the possibilities.

                                                                                                               Photo: Luisa Reyes
Wright to Read  Volunteer and Outreach Manager