Building Our Community Together
April Is Volunteer Appreciation Month
For the first time ever Literacy Connects hosted one event to bring together every volunteer from every program with the theme “Building Our Community Together”. The result was phenomenal. The Literacy Connects staff welcomed close to 250 volunteers at Amphitheater High School on Stone Avenue.
Bringing Out Community Together
The program showcased the many faces of those impacted by Literacy Connects. Our Executive Director began the program which was full of short, heartfelt speeches from several different speakers. Councilwoman Karen Uhlich praised the volunteers for their willingness to give back to their community. Johanna Duran, a teacher at Van Buskirk Elementary, assured Reading Seed coaches that they truly are making a difference in students’ lives. Beauty Citron, a student in the Adult Basic Literacy program, expressed her gratitude for finally being able to help her child with her homework as a result of the support from her tutors. Alejandro Trujillo described how his tutors helped him transition from a student in the English Language Acquisition for Adults classes to a tutor for others who wish to improve their language skills. Dr. Barbara Smith and Dr. Andrew Arthur were then presented with an award for their roles in bringing Reach Out and Read to Southern Arizona several years ago, and expressed their gratitude for the pediatricians who joined in the effort. Dr. Karen Davenport also provided more insight into how Reach Out and Read of Southern Arizona has made an impact on her family. Betty Stauffer and Violet Kennedy honored the office, resource, and library volunteers who generously give their time to help everything run smoothly. Finally, Betty was presented with a bouquet of flowers in honor of her 15 years of service to the organization before she recognized several of Literacy Connects’ long-term volunteers.
Free Books, Tasty Snacks, and Fun Photos
After the presentation, several activities were available for the duration of the event including food, a photo booth, and a free book giveaway. Reading Seed coaches and English Language for Adult tutors met over pastries while Adult Basic Literacy tutors and office volunteers took photos together at the photo booth. Other volunteers flooded the free book room to peruse through the high-quality selection of children’s books that they could distribute to their students. Board members and pediatricians met over fruit trays and were able to share stories about what volunteering means for them. Overall, the event provided the opportunity to really understand the many different ways that volunteers make an impact in our community through Literacy Connects.
Making It All Happen
Our talented staff members worked for months to plan every detail. The wonderful staff members at Amphitheater High School and the District office were extremely helpful and supportive of this event, providing us with a beautiful space and an outstanding audio/visual team of students. Even the weather was on our side that day. Our goal was to create an event where every volunteer would feel appreciated and each minute of planning was worth it when we saw our volunteers’ smiling faces on that Saturday morning.
Ultimately, we seek to honor our volunteers because we recognize that the work that they do is invaluable – from supporting thousands of learners of all ages to giving away over 40,000 books to people in the community and donating over 20,000 volunteer hours so that people can have access to more opportunities in life.
It’s All Because of YOU! Thank you!
Jessica Dennes, Literacy Connects’ Coach Manager/Trainer and Event Planning Committee Chair has this message to pass on to volunteers:”I sincerely hope that you left the event knowing that you are doing work that is valued and necessary. Our theme was Building our Community Together, and because of the amazing volunteers that we have on board, we truly are moving closer to building a community that thrives.”