I volunteer monthly and have a great experience with the other volunteers as well as the kids. It's so simple, but can make a big difference in their life, plus the kids get to bring home a book each month.
I have been a Reading to Kids volunteer for over seven years. Reading to Kids is an organization dedicated to giving under-served children a love of reading. On the second Saturday of every month adult volunteers read to elementary school children and work on book-related crafts with them; the organization holds a brief orientation for new volunteers the same morning of the reading clubs. Volunteers sign-up online and have to complete a quick one-time online application. All volunteers are assigned a partner (you can also request a partner if one of you has volunteered at least once) and you have some time for you(s) to plan your time with the students. Almost everything in this organization is based on volunteering and people making small sacrifices for the greater good. Adult volunteers not only read to the children, but after a few times they can be involved in almost every aspect of the organization: writing grants, organizing fundraising events, such as silent auctions, marketing the organization, maintaining the website, and recruiting volunteers. The volunteers that are unable to donate their time to help run Reading to Kids are able to read to the students only when the volunteers can spare the time, i.e. they are not beholden to be there every month. A natural outcome of this flexibility is the professional diversity among volunteers. Reading to Kids volunteers include teachers, chefs, doctors, (public and private sector) lawyers, business professionals, real estate investors, and college and graduate students; I am an engineer and entrepreneur. Two other groups of people also volunteer to give the students a love of reading. School teachers and administrators commit their time to help run operations during the reading clubs and also help promote the program to students and their parents. The last group is the students and their families. No student is forced to be in the program, at least by no one outside their family. Though the students are given free prize books for attending, the number of students that attend month after month is a testament to the joy the students receive from the activities. I am a volunteer reader and I also help with preparing prizes for students which are raffled-off a couple of times a year. I also had volunteer roles as a Site Coordinator (someone who helps run operations at the reading clubs, in lieu of reading certain months) and a member of Strategic Planning Committee. Given that I am an engineer in a large corporation Reading to Kids allows me, and other volunteers, the ability to see the direct fruits of their labor and the joy on the customers' [students'] faces. Also, I have been able to take on leadership roles and partake in the building and running of an organization. The only downside I have experienced during the reading clubs is that once in a blue moon I am assigned a partner where our thoughts on how best to interact with the students are very out of sync. In terms of being an active volunteer, it can feel like a job sometimes, depending on your role, and it's been frustrating to see the slow growth in the last several years, though part of the holdup is the economy. For potential volunteers I recommend volunteering at least twice to see before saying you will volunteer on a more regular basis. For potential donors/investors, I think it is a testament that many volunteers dedicate extra time to run the organization and also directly help give under-served children a love of reading.
If someone would have told me that being layed-off from my job could be so rewarding I would have told them that they were out of their minds. But it is true. For me that reward is having the opportunity of being a part of "Reading to Kids" Reading to Kids simply put is an amazing and inspirational organization. An organization that is dedicated to inspiring underserved children with a love of reading thereby enriching their lives and opportunities for future success. But the effect of this program is not just felt by the kids. It's effect is felt by the volunteers, the parents, and the teachers. I have since found a new job and my time is not as free as it was when I was unemployed but I have found that I have become more involved with the organization because IT WORKS. It works at all levels and is exciting to see what the program can do for the kids.
I somehow got roped into this five years ago, thinking it would be a good way to meet girls and appear selfless. Then it turned out that I really am selfless! And this group was the perfect way to actualize my selflessness. In addition to being one of the easiest groups to volunteer with, I've found that I love the kids and the results are real. Everything is organized from the ground up, and we all work together to improve the organization and help our city.
I adore Reading To Kids. Having lived in LA for a few years now, I searched a long time to find an organization that seemed worthwhile and could fit into my schedule. Initially, those that did also wanted a hefty volunteer fee. Then I found R2K. The volunteer coordinators are amazing - so dedicated and friendly. The operation runs so smoothly, and I love meeting the other volunteers as well. Of course, though, the best part is the kids. They are so fun and energetic! Volunteering for Reading To Kids is always the highlight of my month. Two huge thumbs up!
I really love the Reading to Kids Organization. This is a wonderful program that is currently in 9 'underserved' schools in the LA area. Volunteers read to kids in grades K-5, work on language skills, do a craft, and every single child goes home with a book. The timing is perfect and consistent, the 2nd Saturday of every month, and I appreciate that. They get hundreds of children to come in and, here's the secret, fulfill my life! I never cease to be amazed at the children, the volunteers and the experience. Truly, I would pay them for the opportunity just to be able to do this!
I have been involved with Reading to Kids for almost three years now and it has been an incredibly rewarding experience. It is a very easy way to fit volunteering into my busy schedule since it is only a few hours once a month on Saturday mornings. It is truly inspiring to see how these kids get excited about reading and to see other volunteers in Los Angeles getting to know one another. I highly recommend R2Ks for anyone in the LA-area.
A friend told me about Reading to Kids about 6 years ago and it sounded like a great, low commitment way to get involved with the community. Of course, once I attended my first reading club and experienced the magic of inspiring LA's youth, I was hooked. Several friends have become volunteers because of my love for the organization. My involvement has increased over the years because I have personally seen the impact this group makes.
I first became aware of Reading to Kids several years ago when they applied for a grant from an organization I was involved with. I'd been sent to do a review and report back. I was impressed to see a couple hundred students dressed in their school t-shirts or good school clothes coming out to a reading event on a Saturday morning. When I was their age, I was home watching cartoons on Saturday morning. The group has since grown from two elementary schools in the downtown Pico/Union area, to eight schools. Volunteer slots for this organization fill up quickly because it is such a fun and rewarding way to spend a few hours a month. We read, do arts and crafts, and most importantly, have conversations with the children to improve their English language skills. If they had additional funding, Reading to Kids could take advantage of their large volunteer pool and spread this excellent program to more elementary schools.