What do a firefighter, city councilor, grandparent, ballet teacher and professional photographer have in common? They have all volunteered for the One to One Children’s Literacy Program in Revelstoke because they wanted to support young readers in improving their reading skills and self-confidence.
In Revelstoke, we have been running the One to One program for 17 years! Over that time, I have had the privilege to spend time with each of our volunteers. I always ask what motivated them to join our reading program for school-aged children. The answer is as unique as the individuals that volunteer. Here’s why one tutor, Jill Chaney, decided to help out.
Jill has every reason not to volunteer. She has a busy career that involves lots of travel, an active family life and little free time for herself. So why does she do it? Why does she put aside precious time for this program? It’s because, like me, Jill has seen the power of this program and it has captured her heart.
A number of years ago, Jill’s family had an opportunity to spend a year in a foreign country. During this time, her twin boys were homeschooled by their father for whom English is a second language. When the family moved back to Revelstoke, the boys were doing well in math and science, but needed more practice with their reading.
Jill’s twins participated in the One to One program that year. She credits that experience with helping her children catch up. She believes that the skills and confidence her boys developed reading with the volunteer tutors is a big part of the reason they are doing so well in school today.
The impact this program had on Jill’s sons inspired her to become a volunteer with us. She wanted to give back and be part of supporting other young readers. Jill says, “It’s cool to be in the schools and to be involved. It’s a great program. We get to meet different kids and to see their strengths. Different skills are an asset and, as volunteers, we learn better and better ways to communicate and guide – it’s a great opportunity to become a mentor.”
When Jill shares her experience with other volunteers, they are inspired and cannot wait to get started. As Jill’s story points out, becoming a reading tutor for children is about so much more than just developing reading skills. In many ways, that is just the starting point. Every tutor brings something special to the table. They become mentors, cheerleaders and cherished allies in reaching for a learning goal. Can you tell I am a fan? In the One to One program, the children work with several volunteers – a group of people in their community that care. Truly, it is that simple and that important.
There have been many times that I have spoken with folks thinking about becoming a volunteer. They have often said, “Oh, I’m not a teacher.” I always smile. You don’t have to be a teacher. We provide training to help you with the tools and strategies you will need. But what we do need, is you! The unique, caring individual willing to give a little of your personal time to help a child moving forward on their learning journey. Every volunteer brings their own style and flair to the table and that, quite frankly, is why it works!
Across the CBAL region, literacy programs are starting their new year. Many communities will be recruiting volunteers for their One to One programs as well as other programs. Visit www.cbal.org to contact your local CBAL community literacy coordinator to find out more about the One to One Children’s Literacy program or about other volunteer opportunities in your community. Volunteers make a big difference!
Community Literacy Coordinator
Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy - Revelstoke