Tag Archives: volunteer

“SMART” begins again… and to celebrate: Apple Pie!

21 Oct

Last week began another year of SMART reading for those of us who volunteer with this organization.  As I’ve mentioned many times, I am a huge fan of the SMART program because its’ goal is to help young people become “confident and successful readers.”  Each week from mid-October to mid-May, volunteers spend one hour reading to two children… and once a month each child receives a book to keep.  It’s easy, it’s rewarding, and it’s so very important to their educational success.

The SMART website states that:  Learning to read is one of the most important steps in a child’s life, laying the vital foundation for future knowledge and education. Prevailing research proves that shared book reading and the availability of books in the home during a child’s first, formative years are the strongest predictors of early literacy skills. SMART provides both.

I’ve been a SMART reader for a long time – and I hope to continue to be one for many years to come.  Reading to my own children when they were younger was a favorite activity for me.  I still have most of their books and I plan to read them with my grandchildren one day… and until then I will be happy sharing those same books with children who have not yet heard the stories.

And now for the funny (as in a little bit strange) part of my week… Last Monday I met a young woman named Ally who seemed very familiar.  It took a little while for me to realize that I was her SMART reader more than a dozen years ago!   Ally then told me that she still has all of the books that she received through the program – which I think is a very good indication that she enjoyed her time in the program.

The next day I made an Apple Crumb Crust Pie for Ally’s mom, Cathy.   While I’ve not seen Cathy in a long time, at one time we were volunteers together… and I’d just been reminded that those moments spent volunteering are pretty special indeed.

It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.
S.I. Hayakawa

SMART readers are always needed – If you have an hour a week to give to SMART, and live in Jackson County, please call this number: 541-734-5628, or go to their website, www.getsmartoregon.org.  Thank you!


Day 282: Beverly and CASA

13 Jan

For those of you who might not know what the word CASA represents, it is this: Court Appointed Special Advocate.  The Jackson County CASA website states, “CASA volunteers are well-trained, everyday citizens appointed by judges to advocate for the safety and well-being of children who have come under the care of Child Welfare due to parental abuse and/or neglect. CASA volunteers speak up for these children and work hard to better their lives. Children helped through CASA and the court system are far less likely to experience re-abuse, spend less time in foster care, and receive needed services more often. CASA volunteers have helped more than two million children nationwide find safe, permanent homes.” (http://www.jacksoncountycasa.org/)

I’d been thinking about CASA and how I wanted to recognize that agency for what they do to support and protect children but I didn’t know who to give a pie to. About a week ago I sent an email to a colleague who is a CASA volunteer to ask him to suggest someone as a pie recipient.  I thought that he might bring me the name of someone in administration or perhaps a child in the system.  Instead he wrote back and told me that his wife, Beverly, was the best CASA he knew.  Then he told me that she had been advocating for a very young child and spent many hours working on behalf of that child.  I thought, “Who better to receive a pie?”

This afternoon, I called Beverly at work to make sure that she would be in, and luckily she was.  A short time later I arrived at her business and walked in with a Marionberry Lattice Topped Pie.   The first thing she said was that her daughter would be so excited when she found out about the pie.   Isn’t that interesting?  I had brought her a pie and  immediately she was thinking about sharing it with her daughter.  I think that one sentence speaks volumes about why Beverly is a great CASA.

Before I left Beverly today, she shared this good news about the child that she watches over – the adoption process has been set in motion for that child to stay with his foster parents.   This is the happy ending that we want for every child… and I am grateful to all the CASA volunteers who work to make it happen.