Volunteering is changing the lives of both children and mentors! Clara Pittman, 70, of Philadelphia, says about her volunteering experience, “It gives you a purpose, because you get up in the morning and you know that you’re needed someplace!”
I, myself, have enjoyed mentoring 8 to10-year-olds in reading for many years—it is one of the things that makes me truly happy in life. I have tutored kids at PS116 elementary school in NYC. You sit one-on-one with a child and read to them, have them read to you, and help them with words and grammar. One of the most rewarding things about the program is the bond and friendship you make with the student, and seeing the child’s reading abilities blossom.
Another thing I personally get a kick out of with volunteering is seeing the looks on the faces of the child when they discover the meaning of certain words—even slang!
I’ll never forget when a child I was teaching asked me what the phrase “take a chill pill” meant. I told him it means to calm down or regain one’s composure. His eyes lit up, I could almost see a lightbulb glow above his head! From then on, whenever one of his friends started getting excited and talking really loud he would say, “Take a chill pill, man!” and smile really big. It put a smile on my face, too!
Everybody is catching the volunteer bug! An organization called Experience Corps brings older, mostly retired adults into public elementary schools to help improve the reading skills of students from kindergarten to third grade. Volunteers go through training; and those who work more than 10 hours a week receive a small stipend. According to an independent survey, 96% of volunteers report they feel better about themselves, and 86% report that their lives have improved since joining Experience Corps.
They have chapters in 20 cities all over America and they are always looking for new members.
If you’d like to help kids, make friends, and feel great about yourself, check them out!