To be perfectly honest, I get kind of nervous when I meet new people. One nervous afternoon, I found myself cross-legged on the floor at the Phoenix Public Library, trying my hardest to make a mischievous little dog’s voice come to life. All I wanted was a smile, and as soon as the little girl I was reading to laughed, I felt my nervous tension melt. That little dog’s voice empowered me- I can do a mean Toad and Kangaroo too.
Though I will sit and read children's books anywhere, anytime- the afternoon I am referring to was part of a volunteer project called “Read to Me” through HandsOn Greater Phoenix.
One of the greatest resources I have found in my search for community involvement is HandsOn Greater Phoenix. They have countless opportunities to get involved- from reading to kids to tending gardens, serving food, and cleaning up schools- they have a calendar full of great opportunities to volunteer in our communities. A great plus- the volunteering projects are graded with age appropriateness labels. So if you are looking for a volunteer opportunity to take your kids to you can peruse the calendar to see what they have.
I have fallen in love with the “Read to Me” program. They have several downtown locations, and volunteers meet about once a month to read books to kids who are brought in from inner city neighborhoods. After we read, the kids present their favorite books to the group. This program allows children over ten to be part of the volunteer team- my son partners up with me and whatever child we are fortunate enough to be paired with. It is so rewarding on so many fronts. Primarily, it gives us the opportunity to be involved together to serve a cause that I hold near and dear to my heart- literacy. It solidifies a sense of community through involvement.
I have a great son, a bunch of great nephews, and all of my friends have kids that I adore. I used to believe that being a good role model to them was enough- and granted; I still believe that is really important. However, rather than having them learn just from my example, I realize I want these kids to be in it with me- involved up to their elbows. Projects like "Read to Me" are a great way to get our kids active.