Last weekend the Herald published a comprehensive insert about Manatee County's schools and programs. But I didn't see one program that I'm proud to be a part of, and that is making a difference in our children's futures.
In 2012, through a grant from the United Way of Manatee County, a group of volunteers began the Reading Pals program to pair adult volunteers with 100 second-grade students.
In the 2013-14 school year, we read to 220 kindergarten children in four schools, because we learned it's never too early to instill love of reading.
This year, for the third year in a row, we are blessed to receive yet another Reading Pals grant.
My two "Pals" amazed me. We sat down to read each week, and they eagerly worked to sound out words in our book of the week. Eduard and Diego were so proud when they "got" a word like "ham-bur-ger."
At the end of each session, they took home the book to build their own library in a home that previously may have had no reading materials.
Our United Way is committed to making a difference in young children's lives and futures. While UW's mission is to make an impact in the areas of education, income and health, it is clear that education is where it starts.
This year we'll be reading in four schools and plan to read to at least 400 children. Consider giving an hour of your time.
Many of last year's volunteers can't wait to start this year's program, saying, "I got more benefit from this program than the children did."
Time will tell but I believe the children and our community are the big winners here!
Volunteers can choose from a variety of times and days to make a difference in these children's lives. Go to www.uwmc.net or call 941-748-1313.