I started volunteering for SMART in 1998 at Tumalo Elementary; my husband joined me the next year. We frequently talked about the SMART program at Grandparents Day and encouraged the grandparents to volunteer. Our own grandchildren live in Washington so it is difficult for us to participate in their school programs. Like us, they may be reading to someone else’s grandchild whose grandparents were not there to read to them.
What keeps me going back to read? Seeing the small victories as a child masters a word, a sentence, a paragraph or a whole book, the excitement in their faces when they realize it’s book giveaway day, even children who are not in the program raising their hands to be picked to replace an absent SMART student.
I have a special memory of a specific young girl; distracted and difficult to engage in the reading. There were personal care and hygiene issues as well. Several years later, I met her again… reading to the younger children in the SMART program. She proudly told me she was now in the leadership program at Tumalo Elementary. I observed how she had matured into a confident, well groomed and involved young girl. I believe that SMART had some effect or impact on her and her decision to become more involved.
For such a small commitment of time, I gave one hour a week, the benefit to these children is enormous. I encourage your readers to volunteer with SMART.