Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Water Buffalo Club Supports Reading to Kids and Hears From Students Past & Present

Posted by Alexandra Babiarz, Literacy Coordinator & AmeriCorps VIP Fellow

 

Reading to Kids recently received a $15,000 grant from the Water Buffalo Club, a charitable club of Westside professionals—"big kids" dedicated to "helping little kids" in Los Angeles. Since 2007, their generous support has enabled us to continue our mission of inspiring children with a love of reading. 

Contributions like these help us make books more accessible to students at the seven elementary schools we partner with in L.A. Unified. Every month, Reading to Kids donates brand-new books to the thousands of students, parents and teachers who attend our reading clubs, as well as to our partner schools' libraries.

"At the reading clubs, every child is given a book to take home and keep forever," Managing Director Charlie Orchard told WBC members during a presentation he made at a charity selection meeting held in late April, where he was joined by Alejandra and Shawn, current students at Los Angeles Elementary, and Edgar Hernandez, a former student from Magnolia Elementary. Alejandra, Shawn and Edgar held up books they received from Reading to Kids.

"And I do mean forever," Charlie said, pointing to the books in Edgar's hands. At 13 years old, these books were two years older than Alejandra and Shawn.

"Before I started going to Reading to Kids, I didn’t have any books at home," Edgar said. "Reading to Kids gave me free books that I could read…. I still read [those books] to my brothers and sisters."

Currently a graduate student at California State University, Long Beach, Edgar now volunteers with Reading to Kids, reading aloud to a new generation of eager young readers at Magnolia Elementary.

Fourth graders Alejandra and Shawn have been attending the reading clubs since Kindergarten.

"I get to improve my reading, my friends go there, and I get to do activities and meet volunteers," Alejandra said. "And I get a lot of books!" She raised her favorite, Liberty: How the Revolutionary War Began.

"Reading to Kids was so influential," Edgar told WBC members. "As you heard from Alejandra and Shawn, it’s fun. And it gives them hope. Reading to Kids planted the seed in my head that I could go to college."

It's with the generosity of donors such as the Water Buffalo Club that Reading to Kids can continue to plant these seeds of hope for a brighter future throughout L.A. Thank you!

Interested in volunteering to read aloud to students? Learn more about our program here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Guest Post by Volunteer, Danielle Davis


Today volunteer Danielle Davis posted a wonderful article about her experiences at our October 11, 2014 reading clubs.  Click the link above to go to her blog and read all about it!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Guest Post by Volunteer, Selina Vazquez

"Why I Became a Reading to Kids Volunteer"

When I left NYC for Los Angeles last year I knew it would be several months before I went home to visit and I was okay with that. I said my goodbyes, scheduled Skype dates, and set out on my journey. Just a few months in I started feeling like something was off.

I come from a big family. My father was the youngest of nine, each with two to three kids of their own, many of whom now have one or two kids themselves - and that’s just one side of my family! I was surround by children my entire life, so I never really thought much of it. I mean, making up an elaborate story to explain why a helicopter just flew by is normal, isn’t it?

Suddenly thrust into a world without children, I realized how much I’ve always valued, and how much I missed, their unique and imaginative view of the world. So I set out to find an organization that would help fill that vacancy. I stumbled across one or two before discovering Reading to Kids.

That first day I arrived at Alta Loma Elementary a bit unsure what to expect, but I quickly realized I had found an organization that loved and valued kids as much as I do. The volunteers all seemed like old friends, which made perfect sense since many of them have been participating in Reading to Kids’ monthly readings for years. I quickly felt at ease and eager for the reading to begin.

From the very moment we volunteers went out to meet with our groups the excitement was palpable. Kids called out greetings to volunteers, volunteers joked with kids they’ve known for years, and my favorite part, kids all around us were having animated discussions about books. These kids loved reading and were proud of that fact!

I could tell you how fun the story was (The Three Ninja Pigs); I could tell you how animated the kids became as they told us how they would have handled the big bad wolf if he tried to get into their house; I could tell you about the amazing artistic ability of one of the girls; I could give you a list of details, but it would not be possible to fully encapsulate the emotions and joy of the experience.

The Three Ninja Pigs craft (Photo by Annika Fenton)

So instead I will say, if you have been considering volunteering at one of Reading to Kids’ monthly events and hesitating for any reason, just do it!

-Selina Vazquez, Volunteer

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If you are interested in sharing your experience with Reading to Kids on our blog, please email us at info@readingtokids.org.