The Greatest Gift
Celebrating the Good in our Community

By Shaele Wood

There may be no greater gift than helping a child learn to read. For twelve years, Anne Andrews, at 71 years old, has selflessly volunteered her time to come to school twice a week from September through May to help a child who needs extra help to learn to read and write.

Anne’s favorite thing about volunteering is the “kids themselves.” She gets the “biggest charge when [she] walks down the halls of the school and students from previous years give [her] hugs and high fives.” Anne smiles as she says it makes her feel really good to catch up with those students and find out how they are doing. Anne reflects on her reasons for volunteering with Book Buddies, and says that there are a lot of parents who don’t have time to spend reading one-on-one with their child; they are busy just trying to put food on the table. She only hopes that if one of her grandchildren was having difficulty reading that someone would volunteer their time to help them.

Anne stands out from the other 145 tutors because of her extraordinary longevity and her exceptional skills. Her reading coordinator at Greenbrier Elementary School believes that “she is a tutor who could be writing her own lesson plans. She notices the fine points of her student’s performance and knows when to move ahead or review. She is sensitive to the student’s needs in other ways too and often discusses her observations of the child’s behavior with me. Her excellent insights enable me to provide better lesson plans. The students respond well to her steady nature, her encouragement and her high standards.”

Book Buddies is a nationally recognized, research-based one-on-one tutorial program that enlists trained community volunteers to provide instruction to first- and second-grade children who need extra help to learn to read and write. If you would like to make a difference in our community, please call Shaele at the United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area Volunteer Center at 972-1705.

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