Volunteering with the COTS Literacy program has been a truly wonderful experience. I volunteered with COTS almost 10 years ago and then moved away from the area. I am now back in Burlington and found my way at COTS for a second time. COTS is an organization that is absolutely mission driven which is evident in the staff, the programs offered, and the clients. Working with primary school children to develop literacy and a love for books is amazing. The children are so excited when I get there each week and often run to their rooms to get their reading name tags. They love listening to me read AND really enjoy me listening to them read. They are exicted to hear feedback from me and even welcome me correcting pronunciation of words. When I read, the children often climb up on the couch and snuggle into my arm or lay on my lap to listen. It is clear they enjoy the time and that they take so much from the hour we spend together. Each Monday I look forward to heading to Main Street to see the children and to bring them the books I've chosen from the Library that week. We each choose 2 books we want to read and off we go. The children laugh at funny parts, ask questions about pictures, count items they see on the page, and try to mimick their school teachers when they read to me. I, on the other hand, smile when I see them, laugh with them at funny parts, ask them questions about the pictures, and give out high fives when they finish their reading! It's only an hour each Monday and it is great, but it never feels like enough time.
COTS provides both food and shelter, sustanence and safety to many folks who live in Burlington,VT. It is so easy to become a volunteer for this organization and then to stay with it because of all of the wonderful things it does for this community's needy. In addition to housing and warmth, it provides ways for people to stay in their current housing situation by providing financial help and counselling, it helps provide clothing and food as well. Our caseworkers are the best. Each week I see extreme kindness being shown to COTS clients along with genuine respect for each individual coming through the door. COTS has wonderful fund raisers throughout the year that volunteers can help out and become an integral part of the process such as a huge annual springtime walk involving thousands of Burlington's residents, taking them on a guided tour of all of the shelters around the city. We also hold a phonathon contacting COTS supporters by phone asking for pledges. This raises a great deal of money for the organization. Currently, a local store, City Market, is selling Christmas trees with the proceeds going to COTS. Coming up is a now annual event called The Coolest Lunch in Town, with local restaurants providing food for a noontime meal and the proceeds also go to COTS. The clincher in this one is that the meals must be eaten outside, in the same conditions that many homeless people bear all winter long unless they come to COTS.