Help a child read by volunteering with the Children's Literacy Center

Elizabeth Eden

TRI-LAKES LIFE

Help a child read by volunteering with the Children’s Literacy Center

BY ELIZABETH EDEN

With fall approaching and new schedules and routines being set, I wanted to take a moment to tell you about an amazing opportunity for you to give back to our Tri-Lakes community in a simple yet deeply impactful way: reading with a child.

The Children’s Literacy Center (CLC) has been serving students in Colorado Springs and along the Front Range for 25 years. The organization offers one-on-one reading tutoring, free of charge, to any student reading below grade-level. The CLC runs tutoring programs at 13 sites in Colorado, assisting nearly 600 students each year. Their results are impressive: according to CLC assessments, 95 percent of the students tutored elevated their reading skills by at least one grade level after a mere twelve weeks of tutoring.

One of the 13 tutoring sites happens to be the Monument Library. The Monument Library location was in danger of being shut down, yet Ann Sulley, Development Director for the Children’s Literacy Center, fought tirelessly to keep it open, securing funding for the 2018-19 school year.

“I used to work as a banker here in Monument and I absolutely love this community,” Sulley said. “There is a huge need for this program up here. Many kids are not reading at grade level. Kids are our future; we need to support them.”

Here is where you come in, dear reader. The CLC is a volunteer driven organization. They need volunteers to commit to reading with these precious kiddos. The time commitment is minimal: volunteers are asked to sign up for a 12-week tutoring session, meeting with their assigned child at the Monument library for one hour, from 5:30-6:30 p.m., on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Think you’re not qualified? If you can read, you are! The CLC even guides volunteers through a training program, which can be completed online or in person in about two to three hours. “Training for the fall session will begin right after Labor Day,” Sulley said.

Anyone age 14 and older can volunteer with the CLC. This is a wonderful opportunity for Middle School or High School kids looking for a volunteer experience. “It’s great for high school seniors who need to complete community service hours,” said Sulley. Parents who have kids tied up in sports can volunteer. Seniors who might be missing their grandchildren can sign up. If you have two hours a week to give, the CLC needs you!

The benefit for the kids is bigger than simply improving their reading skills. In addition to serving as a tutor, a volunteer often becomes a trusted friend. “A very special relationship develops between the student and the volunteer,” said Sulley. “The volunteer really becomes a confidant for the child. They often tell the volunteer things they wouldn’t tell their parent — troubles they’re having at school or with friends.”

Volunteers seem to love the experience as well. “Once you do it, you’re hooked,” Sulley said. “We have some volunteers who have been working with us for years. We like to say ‘Just give us 24 hours and it will change your life.’”

One of those volunteers is John Drew, 64, from northern Colorado Springs. Drew has been volunteering with CLS for 9 years.“I love helping kids read, and I like the Monument Library site a lot,” he said. “The role of the volunteer is two-fold: to serve as a tutor, but also as a friend. The kids have really got to trust you to be willing to read for you. A lot of the kids are just looking for someone to trust. Volunteering is great: helping the kids gives me a really warm feeling inside. It’s a lot of fun.”

Take a look at that fall schedule. Do you maybe have some room for volunteering? Take that step and sign up. Go to childrensliteracycenter.org or give them a call at 471-8672. Thank you for helping the next generation in our community!

Elizabeth Eden is a mom, writer, yoga instructor and musician. She lives in Northgate with her big, beautiful, messy clan. In her free time, she enjoys wine, dystopian novels and documentaries on quantum physics. Send her ideas and feedback at [email protected]