Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What Reading to Kids Volunteers Are Saying...

Here are some of the great things that volunteers had to say after the December Reading Clubs:

Alejandra Arciniega, (5x) from Esperanza Elementary Grade K shares:

"We had pre-k and the kids were AMAZING. Some of them translated from English to Spanish and back so all the kids could understand. Like "beach" means "playa" and then all the kids followed along."

Sherry Dadci, (1x) from Esperanza Elementary Grade 4 shares:

"I really look forward to Reading to Kids because I know that I can help them read. They have a better and brighter future."

One anonymous reader shares:
"I really enjoyed my experience with Reading to Kids. It's so inspirational to see the kids' faces light up when we get into the readings."

Kavita Bhuyan,(5x reader) from Alta Loma Elementary Grade K shares:
"It's worth every minute to see the kids happy."

Alejandra Arciniega,(5x reader) from Esperanza Elementary Grade K shares
"I've never worked with pre-k and I brought my boyfriend with me. When the little kids started crying I was a little bit scared. Once I introduced myself and walked them through what we were going to do, they were great. They really came out of their shells."

Patty Peters, (12x) from Los Angeles Elementary Grade 2 shares:
"Thanks for doing a great job and providing me with the opportunity to volunteer! I know there's tons of work, but it always seems to come together and work great. Thanks!"

Tiffany Tam, (0x) from Magnolia Elementary Grade 1 of UCLA Mortar Board, Agathai Chapter responds:
"Reading to Kids helped me remember way back to the time when I first fell in love with reading. I felt like I had been given a very special opportunity and responsibility to bring the picture book to life and get the kids involved in the story. [This] wasn't hard considering the excellent book I had to work with and the tips that Reading to Kids provided me with. Volunteering with Reading to Kids was so much fun that I immediately shared my experience with my friends after my first day as a reader!"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why I Donate, by Julie Moskovitz

When I was at UCLA, I became involved in community service as a member of Alpha Phi Omega. Of all the projects I participated in, the one that I enjoyed the most was Reading to Kids. 

Reading to Kids was different. Everything just came together. Kids were happy and excited to be at school on a Saturday morning, and volunteers were dedicated and spent their time making sure my experience was great. And the impact that every single person was having on the kids was noticeable. 

I volunteered off and on over the years, but the first month Reading to Kids was at Los Angeles Elementary was when I became hooked. I arrived, the Site Coordinator needed help, and I was a GLC for the first time. And I have been at Los Angeles ever since! Slowly I have become more and more involved. First it was volunteering at one of the social events, then joining a few committees, and before I knew it, I was the Special Events Committee Co-Chair!

The reason why I've become so involved is, at every level, from the smallest task to planning the Annual Comedy Night, I know I'm making a difference, and my time is valued. I've also made amazing friends along the way, which makes every event, every meeting, and every reading club even more rewarding. 

The reason I donate to Reading to Kids is the same reason I volunteer. Every donation is going towards books, supplies, and staff, who work hard to make the reading clubs possible.
You can be sure that your donation will make an impact, make a difference, and in a small way, make the world a better place.

Be Inspired. Donate. www.readingtokids.org

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Natalie Shepherd, Readign to Kids Intern

On my last day as an intern, I can look back on my summer with Reading to Kids as a fulfilling and rewarding experience. I was able to do a lot of work behind the scenes, in the office, as well as more hands on work at the schools. Both arenas helped me learn a lot from my first internship with a non-profit organization.

Like any internship, my work in the office mostly consisted of what everyone else wanted to avoid – counting, spreadsheets, organizing, etc. While this sort of work would normally get old very fast, I found that I didn’t quite feel this way at Reading to Kids. I think the knowledge of the greater cause that Reading to Kids works towards made monotonous work feel more important and worth while. So, while plugging numbers into yet another excel spread sheet, keeping in mind all the children that this organization so positively affects, greatly deterred my instinct to complain, and instead made me feel like I was part of something special. 

Though my hands-on experience was pretty much wholly excluded to Reading Clubs, which were amazing experiences in themselves, I was also able to serve as a teacher’s aid once at White Elementary. My day as a teacher’s aid was unquestionably my favorite day of interning. I was assigned to a fourth grade class, and my whole day was dedicated towards administering timed readings to the children one by one. I would set a timer for one minute, and the child would read as much as they could within that time, and I would underline any words that they could not read or could not comprehend. It was explained to me that these exercises help determine if the children are reading at the appropriate grade level, and, given that many of them come from non-English speaking homes, also determine their fluency. 

While many of the children read perfectly well, it was very eye opening to see how far behind so many other children were – I remember one child didn’t understand the concept of vowels. After I did these exercises, I pulled some of the worst readers out of class for a more extensive exercise. For about an hour I was able to work with the child who did not understand vowels, and had a very hard time comprehending what he read. While I was technically only asked to evaluate him, another teacher had told me to go ahead and see how quick the child might pick up things I tried to teach him. It was such a great feeling to watch as the child began to understand concepts and strategies that before had confused him. It was an even better feeling to witness how excited he was about his progress. The whole experience helped me to realize how much I would like to work more directly with children in the future. 

On a whole, my time with Reading to Kids did not only serve as something to place on a future resume, but it served as an experience that helped me get a better idea of what it is I want to do in the world. It is a remarkable organization and I am very happy I was able to be a part of it.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Reading to Kids Intern, Analee Abbot

Yesterday I had the pleasure of serving as a classroom helper for two different teachers at Esperanza Elementary School. Teachers are awarded classroom helpers when they are highest recruiters of students for our monthly clubs. As an intern, I spend a lot of my time behind a desk and in an office. Even when I spend time at the schools it is usually in a closet counting books or in the hallways posting flyers. I do not get to spend very much time directly interacting with the teachers and students at our partner schools.

In my first classroom I taped together cardboard dividers for testing season, entered grades onto the computer and put together a poster board full of pictures from a team building exercise the kids had participated in. In my second classroom I graded math tests (using a provided key) and helped a student master addition using coins and creativity. None of these things were hard (and a couple were not particularly thrilling) but it felt good to know that a hard working teacher would get some well deserved rest because of my help. Both the teachers could not thank me enough and the kids seemed excited that somebody from Reading to Kids had come to visit them. As I walked around campus, even my Reading to Kids t-shirt encouraged smiles and friendly greetings from students.

I walked away from the whole experience reminded that our presence in these schools is important for two reasons. First of all, it gives our organization more credit in the community. Every time a kid or a parent or a teacher sees us on campus, we are reassuring them that we are an organization with people who care and that we are eager to help. Every time we say we will come and we do, we are showing teachers that we are appreciative and that, if they are helpful in recruiting a lot of kids, we will help them in return.

The second reason our presence is important is because it reminds us, as volunteers, of the people we serve. The environments and circumstances that surround these children are things that I, who grew up in a fairly nice neighborhood, can hardly imagine. The danger, fear and uncertainty that they face everyday is very real and difficult. I felt that by sitting in their classroom and listening to their discussions I walked away with a better understanding. It is not a complete understanding but it is better than what I had before. I really would recommend the experience to anyone affiliated with the organization.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Reading to Kids Intern, Analee Abbott

In this week's of edition of "From Behind the Desk," Reading to Kids intern Analee Abbott discusses the art of grant writing and working on social events for Reading to Kids.

This week I finished the Verizon Grant application. We aren't sure how much we will be requesting yet, but in this economy any money would be greatly appreciated. The best thing about the grant is that it does not specify where we need to spend the money. Having the flexibility to use the money for all our program expenses (salaries, books, supplies etc.) is always helpful. The application was a particularly detailed one and it was nice getting to show off all the wonderful things that makes Reading to Kids worthy and valuable.

In addition to learning how to write grants, I’ve been working on a few of the social events. First off, finishing up all the Hamburger Mary bingo prize packages was a lot of fun. We had a large turnout on Wednesday night and one of the waiters told me they even had to turn people away. It was nice to see what a large crowd turned out to support us!

I also got to help Rachel process all of the Hollywood Bowl tickets. I have been managing a spreadsheet since orders began coming in June, but on Thursday we formed a seating chart and mailed tickets out to people we had received money from. We will have at least 50 volunteers at our August event and anticipate that it will be a huge success.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What is Reading to Kids?

"Reading to Kids is a program that wants to build a lifetime of love for books. This is a volunteer program offered to children the second Saturday of each month at some L A public schools. I found out about the program last year. I did volunteer a couple of times, and due to my hectic schedule, I couldn’t do it anymore; this year I am back, so I sign up for this month reading. The reading was on July 12. I asked my daughter to come with me. She is twenty-two years old, and does not work weekends. She told me that she is busy with her own stuff. How do I wish to take her with me, the same way that I took her to the public library since she was a toddler, but nowadays she is too heavy for me to carry, or give her time out for not listening to me. Yes, it is hard to give up three hours of our precious time to help children with their reading.

These children come on a Saturday morning to hear someone to read. After the reading, the children get a book as a prize for their achievements. These children could stay at their homes and watch T V tackled under their covers. They could stay home and play with their friends, but these children are special. They long for books, they prefer to come to school on a Saturday morning and enjoy their readings.

I saw a little girl going home after the program. I was leaving the parking lot, and she was crossing the street. She was going home all by herself. Home was a little apartment around the corner, a block away from school. She carried a book that was given to her after the program, as something very precious. She was taking her book home. She was going to a place where books are not a necessity. She was going to a place where the T V is in Spanish all day long. She was carrying with her paradise. One day, this little girl will grow-up and the lessons from her books will be stronger that any lessons she can learn on the streets. She will be a professional, someone who will care for her community; who knows, maybe a doctor or a teacher.

Reading to Kids is waiting for more volunteers. This is a beautiful program because it is planting the seeds of knowledge in little minds. This is an extraordinary program because it is giving hope of a better future to little children. Please become a reader because little children are waiting to hear you reading."

The above entry was written by Reading to Kids volunteer Maria Morales

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pictures from the January Reading Clubs

Thanks to everyone who came out to volunteer on Saturday. Check out pictures from the January 2009 Reading Clubs at Gratts!