Volunteer Spotlight: Maria Young
Maria is front and center
Read and Feed sites serve children from schools throughout Wake County. School contacts are a lifeline for our programs to run efficiently and effectively. They recommend students for Read and Feed, monitor student progress, and some school contacts tutor as well.
Maria Young is a school social worker at Cary and Northwoods elementary schools and serves as a school contact and tutor at the Read and Feed site at First United Methodist Church in Cary. Young has been volunteering with Read and Feed for two years, giving her the opportunity to assist students in their learning while having weekly contact with their families.
Volunteering in the student’s neighborhoods allows Young to better assess the needs of the families and assist them with factors that can hinder learning, such as access to food or school supplies. When volunteering at a program site, Young witnesses the impact of Read and Feed and evaluates the children that she recommends to participate.
Young said, “I have seen tremendous growth in all of the students who have been participating in Read and Feed. The most notable factor is the love of the program. Students ask me daily if it’s a Read and Feed day. They look forward to their time reading with their tutor and the positive reinforcement they are getting from it.”
One particular student who has benefited from Read and Feed is Michael. He is the youngest of five children in a Spanish speaking home. There is not a lot of academic support for Michael when he gets home from school, therefore he has struggled with learning and motivation for several years.
Michael was involved in Read and Feed for a year and half, and he showed a lot of growth. His teachers reported that he was getting his homework done, and his grades were improving. One evening, Michael read over 100 pages with his tutor for which he was praised highly. Young believes that Michael’s self-esteem was much improved because of Read and Feed. He loved coming and loved reading with his tutor.
Young is enthusiastic about Read and Feed because it provides a supportive community for students. She said, “The volunteers become more like mentors for the students because they get to spend so much individual time with them. The volunteers [at FUMC Cary] also get to know the families of the students, which is a huge blessing for some of the isolated families.”
For the 2016-2017 school year, Young will be the school contact for both Cary and Northwoods elementary schools and will continue volunteering as a tutor. Young has seen positive changes in the children who come to Read and Feed, and she is grateful to be a part of the organization.
Young wants to encourage more people to volunteer with Read and Feed. Volunteering one hour per week can help to change a child’s life.
The Cary Page Rotary Club is passionate about Read and Feed
Rotary clubs are dedicated to building goodwill in their communities and all over the world by volunteering and aiding organizations. For four years, the Cary Page Rotary Club members have been supporting Read and Feed with monetary donations and volunteer hours. The club has sponsored four different sites in Cary, and they will sponsor the Faith United Methodist Church (FUMC) site again next year.
Club members enjoy getting involved with Read and Feed and working directly with the children. For each Read and Feed session at FUMC, there are about 15 club members volunteering.
The Rotary club continues to partner with Read and Feed because, as club member Pat Gallagher stated, "it is an extremely positive organization where club members can provide a service to families that are in need."
Gallagher said that Read and Feed provides a comfortable environment for the children because they tend to know each other from school and have already developed relationships.
Over the course of a year, club members get to know the children that they see each week. Gallagher met a girl who was a reluctant reader at the beginning of the year. But by the end of the year she was excited to pick out a book to take home and read to her younger brother.
The Cary Page Rotary Club is committed to helping Read and Feed. This year, in addition to sponsoring a program site, the club is also donating $5,000 toward the purchase of a new mobile classroom.
New Sites Need New Leaders
We are very excited to partner with four new schools during the upcoming school year: Conn, Barwell Road, Wilburn (all in Raleigh) and Northwoods (in Cary). All of these new sites need tutors and some of them need Team Leads!
If you consider “highly organized” as one of your strongest traits, we need you! Are you willing to serve as a Team Lead at one of our new sites? The Team Lead is responsible for overseeing the flow of the evening from partnering tutors with children to ensuring book bucks are redeemed at the end of the session.
The time commitment is only slightly more than that of tutors. Team Leads get together with staff two times per year, at the end of the school year and just prior to the start of the next school year.
If you would like more information or are ready to sign up, contact Heather Cross, firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-538-3840.