What Does it Mean to Volunteer at Words Alive?

The Words Alive Family

If you’ve been volunteering at Words Alive for a while, you may have heard us refer to our community of volunteers as a family, saying things like “come join our Words Alive family!” when recruiting new readers and facilitators for the classroom. This is because we’ve come to understand, through stories from volunteers and donors, that something about volunteering at Words Alive encourages this truly familial atmosphere.

Read Aloud Program volunteer  Karen Mali  n  holding a gift from the classroom she reads in: a pot that says "Ms. Karen, Thank you for helping us grow" and each flower has a picture of a student on it.

Read Aloud Program volunteer Karen Malin holding a gift from the classroom she reads in: a pot that says "Ms. Karen, Thank you for helping us grow" and each flower has a picture of a student on it.

We’ve heard stories about past Board Members and volunteer groups getting together to have lunch on a regular basis, volunteers have been moved to tears when talking about their experiences in the classroom, and, most importantly to our students, volunteers continue to come back year after year and give their time to fulfilling our mission.

We’ve heard a lot of these stories recently. Stories about why volunteers choose to spend their free time with us, about why they keep coming back week after week, about special experiences they’ve had in the classroom, and, most of all, about what it means to them to volunteer at Words Alive. We’d like to share just a few of these stories with you!

An ABG volunteer attended her initial volunteer orientation at our office earlier this year, and told us that her son had been a participant in our Adolescent Book Group at Innovations, a Momentum Learning School, the previous school year. Inspired by her son’s positive experience with our program she reached out and started volunteering with us, at the same school her son had previously attended! When we heard this, every one of our staff members was incredibly touched. It was so meaningful to hear of a student who was impacted by our work so much that it inspired a relative to join us in fulfilling our mission.

Margie Roehm, a volunteer in our Read Aloud Program, shared many stories with us when we asked her why she loved being a volunteer at Words Alive.

“I believe in bringing the words to life through visual demonstrations and examples. Putting expression in your voice as you read the story is critically important. Life is not monotone. I also believe in fun and encouraging the children’s thirst for knowledge. Reading has the ability to take you anywhere you want to go and encourages you to question as you learn. By showing the children what the words mean, it places the word in context and hopefully, will help them remember the word.

An added bonus is learning from other Words Alive readers. I have great reading partners who are very creative and fun to read with. We share ideas all the time. Reading to young children is a sheer joy! Getting them to participate and enjoy our story time together as much as I do, makes my day!”

Gerissa French, our lead volunteer at Lindsay School, shared: “It is exciting and fulfilling to volunteer with Words Alive. I am always impressed by the students' thoughtful comments and by their ability to relate their own lives to the fascinating books we read together.”

A picture of volunteers at this year's Volunteer Appreciation Event!

A picture of volunteers at this year's Volunteer Appreciation Event!

So, what does it mean to volunteer at Words Alive?

It means that you will be surrounded by people who not only want to make our community a better place, but are taking steps to actual do that - and through reading, no less! It means you will have fun, meaningful, memorable experiences with students. It means you will discover a network of fellow volunteers who will support you as you make a difference in the word. Hopefully, it means you will find a second family at Words Alive.

We couldn’t do it without our volunteers.

We also often say that our work would not be possible without our volunteers, and this is 100% true. Words Alive has a staff of nine people, working to serve over 5,000 students and families in over 140 classrooms across San Diego County. Without our 550+ volunteers, this simply would not be possible. We are proud to have the reputation we do, to be an organization known for it’s positive and fulfilling volunteer experiences. If you are currently a volunteer, thank you for your commitment to supporting our work and for being a part of our family. We really couldn’t do it without you.

If you are interested in volunteering and joining our family, visit this page!