Roman J. Salamon

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Thankful Thursday Series: Volunteer mentors instill confidence in young readers

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DelRee Carrington has come a long way since his first visit with United Way I READ volunteer Melissa Adkins. He entered Mrs. Schlaht's kindergarten class at Donald C. Parker Early Education Center struggling to read. But as the school year comes to an end, he can now recognize sight words.

Adkins, in her first-year as an I READ volunteer, understands his improvement is not all attributed to her. But she knows that the one-on-one attention with DelRee is valuable and instills confidence in him as a reader.

"DelRee pops up every time I visit his classroom. He is more confident and now wants to pick out the book for our visit," says Adkins.

Adkins was one of several I READ volunteers on hand for an end of the year volunteer barbecue recently held at Donald C. Parker Early Education Center. The event brings I READ volunteers, teachers, students and their families together for an evening of food and story sharing.

In total, 90 students in the Harlem School District were matched this school year with United Way I READ volunteers. On average, each student received about 19 I READ sessions between September 2013 and April 2014 for a collective total of 835 hours. I READ volunteers only spend 30 minutes each week with their student, but the consistent mentoring relationship has a positive impact on a student's academic and emotional development.

Like most I READ volunteers, Adkins is looking forward to seeing her student again in the fall. In fact, she enjoyed her experience so much that she is adding another student next year.

To volunteer as a United Way I READ mentor and help young kids achieve literacy success by fourth grade, visit this page.


Written: Roman J. Salamon, Communications Director, United Way of Rock River Valley

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