Kay Gurtin - Words Alive Volunteer of the Month - July 2017

Please join us in congratulating Kay Gurtin – Words Alive Volunteer of the Month for July 2017!

Kay Gurtin is a Words Alive pioneer and veteran volunteer.  She has been with our flagship program, the Adolescent Book Group, since 2005 and has served on the board of directors since 2011.

Going above and beyond, Kay has extended successful programming at her ABG site, where she and her fellow volunteers are leading book discussions throughout the summer months. She also recently facilitated a resume building workshop for students in our other Teen Services program, the Words Alive Westreich Scholarship. Kay and her colleague from Gurtin Municipal Bond Management led an engaging career-readiness session, arming the scholarship students with expert advice as they start to enter the workforce.

On the board, Kay has provided guidance on executive programming decisions, the annual Author’s Luncheon and Fundraiser and marketing efforts.  Kay has been an important part of supporting the Words Alive Author's Luncheon and Fundraiser as our presenting sponsor. She has also taken the time to help secure silent auction items that allow us to raise even more money in support of our programs.

We thank you, Kay, for your commitment to the community and the generosity with which you serve.  Words Alive is lucky to have your leadership!

Check out the Volunteer of the Month interview with Kay below:

Tell us a little about yourself. (Brief introduction)

I have been an active Words Alive volunteer on the ABG front for the last 12 years.  My first volunteer stint was with Lindsay Summit and their amazing teacher, Dawn. I looked forward to my monthly sessions as I loved being with the students, but even more so, loved learning from their perspectives each month. I then segued to the Choice school with 20-year veteran teacher and rock-star, Ben White. As the site-manager at Choice for 6+ years, we had one of the most loyal and consistent volunteer teams in the organization – a lasting bond between students and words alive stalwarts. With Choice closing, I followed Ben White to YDC school, which is a probationary school in Mira Mesa. The learning never stops and it is a challenging experience each month – the students keep us on our toes!  I have also been an active member on the Words Alive Board for the last six years and a mentor to the ABG program. My day job is Head of Recruitment at Gurtin Municipal Bond Management – a proud supporter of literacy and Words Alive.

What are you reading lately?

Just finished Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. It simultaneously tracks two half sisters' lives from Ghana to America over three centuries. Beautifully written and a compelling read. I saw the author speak recently and it sealed my already favorable review of the novel. She shared that books were like unconditional love and “free” at her local library as a child, and influenced her life and career. Plus, I am re–reading The Freedom Writers Diary for my July facilitation at YDC. It has motivated me to re-read the novels the students read and were inspired by in the book – Zlata’s and Anne Frank’s Diary. Fascinating that they can relate the war on drugs and gangs on our streets to the survival of teens in the Holocaust and Bosnia, but most importantly, like the Words Alive mission, the book conveys the success of engagement and making a student feel worthy and acknowledged through reading is the tried and true ticket to success.