I work with United Way of Lake County as a Reading Success AmeriCorps member. Every day during the school week we bring reading volunteers and tutors into classrooms throughout Waukegan, IL. Volunteers commit to work with students for a minimum of 40 minutes each week during the entire school year. The students that our volunteers work with have on average an 88.6% poverty rate in their schools and almost 60% of the students in these schools have a limited English proficiency. Last year only 55% of Waukegan third graders met the state goal for reading.
I am constantly amazed by our dedicated volunteers that work with these students. Our volunteers come from all walks of life. We have retired teachers, corporate professionals, college students, bankers, and even a recent immigrant to the United States. Some of our volunteers drive more than a half hour each week to work with these students; one volunteer walks more than five miles to the school because he does not have a car. All of them dedicate their time regardless of how much time it takes from their work week or how far they have to drive or walk to get to the school.
Most of all, our volunteers are passionate. Once they see these children on a weekly basis and understand the situation the schools are in, a light switches on. My volunteers become steadfast advocates for their students fighting to teach these kids reading skills and to ignite a love of reading in each student. One volunteer is collecting money to purchase a reading rug for her classroom. Another volunteer hugged me yesterday because she was “just so excited” about working with her students. I am honored to work with such a great group of dedicated impassioned volunteers every week.
VISTA – United Way of Lake County