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.