"Read With Me” is a local nonprofit helping East Valley children learn how to read.
News Channel 3’s Caitlin Thropay caught up with some of the volunteers who say through the pandemic, it has been the children who have helped them feel connected.
“I’ve been doing Read With Me for 11 years," Kathy Coplen told News Channel 3. "I’m a retired teacher and I missed working with the students,” she added.
Normally, Read With Me volunteers like Coplan take a bus every week to the East Valley to help children learn how to read in person, but now with students learning from home, volunteers are having to help them read virtually.
“I won’t lie, it has been a transition," Jay Kane, another volunteer at Read With Me said. "It has been a challenge but we’ve had terrific support from the Read With Me staff,” he shared.
Kane has worked with students at Mecca Elementary School for six years. This year he said the students are helping him just as much as he is helping them.
“I don’t want to get emotional here but it has helped me so much," Kane said. "It’s almost impossible to connect with people during this pandemic and even though it’s virtual, it’s a tremendous connection with these kids," he said.
Read With Me started forming these connections in 2004. Since then, the Coachella Valley Unified School District told News Channel 3 their graduation rates have improved. Roberta Klein, the president of Read With Me hopes the pandemic won’t impact the progress they’ve made.
“We cannot let this get any worse because the kids have lost so much academically,” Klein said.
She said, Read With Me has trained 89 volunteers but they need at least 100 more.
“I love seeing how they make great progress from the beginning of the year to the end of the year,” Toni Harlan, another Read With Me volunteer said.
Harlan sat in a seminar to learn how to use Zoom so she can keep working with her second graders.
“You can come to the training center as often as you want until you feel comfortable in being able to do this from home,” Klein said.
All of the volunteers said the rewards from doing Read With Me outweigh all of the challenges the pandemic has brought on.
“It brings a lot of joy into my life so anyone who’s thinking about volunteering, let me tell you and I tell all of my friends; you will get much more than you give. You’ll give a lot but you’ll get much more back,” Kane said.
“They look forward to it and we look forward to it every week,” Coplen added.
If you are interested in being a Read With Me volunteer you can find more information on their website here: https://www.readwithmevolunteers.com/