Thursday, May 10, 2007

Why they call it giving

I just came back from the last day of a somewhat disappointing semester of volunteering for the Denver Public Library's Read Aloud Program. This semester, for some reason, there were many instances in which the teachers "forgot" to tell me or couldn't figure out how to reach me to let me know that the class would be gone on a field trip, out because of parent-teacher meetings, have volunteers from another program in the class, or be unavailable because of something else "special" the teacher had planned. Today, it was the last day of school and they were having a party with parents and brothers and sisters. I barely got a chance to hand out the gift books the library gives to each child at the end of the semester.

Every time it happened I got angry. At first. But then I would think about it and realize these are the only times that this volunteer experience really asks anything of me.

Reading to little kids once a week? Not hard. The kids are adorable, funny and loving. The teachers are wonderful with them and with me. And you want to talk about giving! These women give--their time, their hearts and often their own money. The Read Aloud Program is such an easy way to give a little back that there's no room for complaint when sometimes it doesn't work out. Days like today remind me it's not about me.

Each semester I know I make a difference in at least one child's life. This semester it was with a little boy who went from hating stories to actually requesting them. I helped make someone a reader! The satisfaction of knowing I touched a child's life in a way that could affect him or her forever is remarkable. That I get any more than that from the program (and I do) is the beauty of volunteering. I highly recommend it.


Anonymous said...

Hi Carleen,
I've been a Reading Buddy here at NJC for 4 years now & the experience has always been wonderful. I've had enthusiatic readers, an 8th grader who had discovered girls & wanted to talk about them & this year a squirmy non-reader who finally learned to enjoy just listening. One year I had a scatterbrained teacher who ALWAYS forgot we were coming & this year's teacher emails us each week with a reminder. Kids & books are worth it, no matter what! Keep up the good writing & volunteering, love the blog.

Carleen Brice said...

Thanks Anon Reading Buddy. I thought about being a buddy when I was at NJC, but let myself be stopped by the flakiness. I heard it got better. Yay books and yay helping kids!

One Heart Dancing said...

Yes to making kids into readers! And better yet, readers of stories.

Your writing is beautiful, and your stories more beautiful yet.

The kid is lucky to have had you in his life.