Tag Archives: volunteer los angeles
I’ve posted about how I volunteer once a month or so with Reading to Kids here in Los Angeles where we read picture books to elementary school students and craft with them. So while it’s not about my picture book life per se, I wanted to spread the word now about another wonderful literacy organization I’ve been volunteering with this year: WriteGirl.
“WriteGirl is a creative writing and mentoring organization that promotes creativity, critical thinking and leadership skills to empower teen girls.”
It has many components, but the main ones I’ve been involved with are weekly mentoring and monthly writing workshops. It’s been pretty amazing to work with a teen girl on a regular basis, one who blows my mind with her insight and natural talent. And the workshops are a chance to see the wide array of girls in the program, their varied voices and spirits. It’s a privilege.
Women are paired with girls as writing mentors. We meet once a week or so with our mentees to talk and write and share our writing. To encourage. To explore. To explain. To expand.
Pretty cool, right?
Plus, there are a dozen workshops through the school year on Saturdays. Workshops on journalism, memoir, songwriting(!), fiction, poetry, comedy, you name it. And women come and talk to the girls and help lead the writing activity-filled days. Special guests are women in the news business whose names you might recognize. Successful songwriters for pop stars. A wonderful champion of poetry in L.A.
But the real draw is that the girls are guided through a day of writing. Their words. Their stories. And at the close of every workshop, some of them read snippets aloud to the whole group. It’s moving and incredible to see them speak.
“Never underestimate the power of a girl and her pen.”
Every WriteGirl who graduates high school goes to college. Michelle Obama honored the organization with National Arts and Humanities Youth Program award. One of the girls is the first Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. WriteGirl publishes anthologies of the girls’ work so they get a taste of publication. There’s a program that reaches out to girls in schools and juvenile detention centers. But most importantly, there are women helping girls and girls being together and girls writing. That’s WriteGirl.
Keren Taylor, Founder and Executive Director is standing in the middle there. She’s also been featured as a CNN Hero!
If you’re in L.A., Skylight Books is holding a WriteGirl reading this Saturday, March 21st!
Is there anything like WriteGirl where you live?
Since my birthday was over the weekend, I had a chance to reflect on the year behind me (and one ahead!). One of the best things about the last year for me has been that Saturday morning each month when I volunteer with Reading to Kids. It’s something I’m excited to continue with this year.
Why? Because I get to read to kids. And then craft with kids. And, with the other volunteers, make an impact on children in Los Angeles. It’s a privilege to be a small part of what this incredible organization is doing.
Every single Saturday morning is a meaningful experience. Sometimes, you get to see a glimmer of understanding. Sometimes you get to affirm a child’s talents. Sometimes you have a breakthrough with a kid who needs some extra attention.
R2K started in 1999 and now averages over 800 kids attending each month at a handful of elementary schools around LA. That’s parents bringing their kids, not because they have to, but because they value the reading clubs. And while the kids are being read to by pairs of volunteers, their parents receive encouragement about the importance of reading to children at home.
Each kid also gets a prize book to take with them, which is pretty cool and something they get super excited about! (And for some of them, these are the only books they own.) That’s 800 books given out every month for each and every one of them to start or add to a library at home.
Let’s just say a Kindergartner comes to the program and keeps coming most of the time until she graduates fifth grade. That child could be read to and crafted with over 50 times! 50 books, 50 crafts, 50 Saturday mornings focused on literacy, learning, art-making, communicating, and building self-esteem. Pretty cool, right?
I typically choose which grade to work with based on the book they’re reading. And since teachers at participating schools pick, there are some really great choices!
Not everyone has space in their lives for volunteering, but if you’re in L.A., I highly recommend Reading to Kids, even if you only sign up once or organize a volunteer opportunity with your school or business or other group as a special activity.
Plus, October is the Reading to Kids annual fund drive.
And if you’re not in L.A., maybe there’s a similar literacy organization in your area. It’s an everybody wins kind of thing.