Be the Change #18 – The Best Hour of My Work Week

I’m not as committed a volunteer as my friend Theresa, whom I blogged about last week.  My family, my job at the bank and my writing take up most of my time.  But I obviously have a passion for the written word, and I try to focus my donations of time and money on the cause of promoting literacy.

I’m proud to work for PNC, partly because of the bank’s Grow Up Great program, which has donated millions of dollars and thousands of employee volunteer hours to early-childhood education over the years.  My team has volunteered many times to help clean and prepare classrooms for a new school year, or package literacy kits for schools.  I have donated many, many children’s books to our book drives.

I am also an annual donor to Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

But, the commitment that warms my heart the most is my weekly visit to Martin Luther King School.  For the past 4 years, I have been a volunteer with the RIF Everybody Wins program.  Every Tuesday, I have the privilege of spending my lunch hour reading one-on-one with a first, second or third-grader.  It’s the most rewarding hour of my week.  The first year, they gave me the easiest kid in the world.  Corey, a 3rd-grader, already loved to read, and we read many chapter books together, including his favorites, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.  Corey was polite and charming – and knew it.  When I complimented him on his excellent manners, he replied, “Yes, the ladies at church say I’m a sweetheart.”  The following year, I was paired with Adriana, a sweet little second-grader who was obsessed with Disney’s Frozen.  Adriana had a little less attention span than Corey, and would rather draw pictures than read.  I lured her into reading with as many Frozen books as we could find, and the promise that, as we finished each book, she could draw me a picture about it.   For the past two years, I have been partnered with Zauymon, a high-energy little boy much like my own grandson.  At first, it was a challenge getting Zauymon to sit still long enough to read, but I have been gratified by his steady progress over the past two years, from a hesitant reader who preferred that I read to him, to a confident reader who now prefers to show off his skills to me.

Each of these children has been a delightful break in the middle of my busy work week, and we part at the end of each school year with hugs, a few tears, and a bag of gift books (the only time of year we are allowed to give gifts to our “reading buddies”).

I wish you could see pictures of my 3 cuties, but, for privacy reasons, we are not permitted to share their photos.  So the picture attached to this post is a generic one from the internet.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be blogging some more about people who volunteer their time and money to causes that they care about.

What’s your passion?  How can you use it to help others?

2 Responses to “Be the Change #18 – The Best Hour of My Work Week”

  1. Hi Kathy – My passion is diversity and inclusion training. During the past two weeks I have taken vacation from my “day job” at Pitt Law School to deliver diversity consultations via VISIONS, Inc. (a diversity consulting firm that I have been affiliated with for 23 years). Two weeks ago I spent two days at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, NE. and co-facilitated a diversity and inclusion session with their NWU Student Diversity Leadership Team. This past week I co-facilitated two days of diversity and inclusion workshops at Virginia Commonwealth University.

    Personally, I receive tremendous energy from doing this work. It enables me to make a connection with people from all different backgrounds and to discuss matters of importance in better understanding, utilizing and celebrating differences.

    I have seen time and again that people appreciate having a safe space to hold difficult conversations about race, sexual orientation, age and socioeconomic status among other matters these days. The VISIONS model and process is a very constructive approach in this arena.

    Keep on Keepin’ on!

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