Volunteerism

Mercedes Santiago - Words Alive Volunteer of the Month - April 2018

 
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Please join us in congratulating Mercedes Santiago - Words Alive Volunteer of the Month for April 2018!

Mercedes has been a Words Alive Volunteer for over two years.  She is a devoted reader who brings consistency and positive energy to each of her Read Aloud Program sessions.  Mercedes is also one of the first to respond to fill in for a fellow reader.  She has volunteered for the organization's annual fundraiser, the Author's Luncheon as well. We rely so much on commitment and follow through, and Mercedes exemplifies those traits in a volunteer.

Thanks, Mercedes, for your commitment and enthusiasm! 

 

Check out the Volunteer of the Month Interview with Mercedes Santiago below:

Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Mercedes Santiago and I retired after 38 years of being a school counselor for San Diego Unified School District. I'm very grateful that I had such a wonderful career supporting teachers, administrators, parents and those amazing students. Just as my career was fulfilling my retirement is equally as rich. I enjoy new experiences, salsa dancing, the arts, yoga, meditating and volunteering. Life is too good to sit back and not participate!

How did you get involved with Words Alive?
I must thank my friends, Charlene Sapien and Estela Salazar, who introduced me to Words Alive. Reading has been the perfect vehicle to be part of student's lives.

What is the most rewarding part of your volunteer role(s)?
Seeing the children smiling so happy when you enter the classroom is just as thrilling and exciting for me as it is to them. I really like to spend time listening to the student's understanding of the message and how it relates to them. I like to expound upon self-respect and tolerance whenever the book bridges these topics. I truly look forward to our time together.

What have you been reading lately?
I love having a book in my hand and presently I'm enjoying Howard Cutler M.D. & His Holiness the Dalai Lama, The Art of Happiness. Cutler writes that Dali tells you that happiness is the purpose of life and that every motion of our life is towards happiness. How to get there has always been the question. For me, it's service to others that truly makes me happy.

Thank you all for bringing joy to children.

Meghan Scripture - Words Alive Volunteer of the Month - March 2018

 
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Please join us in congratulating Meghan Scripture - Words Alive Volunteer of the Month for March 2018!

Meghan is a passionate and energetic addition to our volunteer family.  She joined the Teen Services Program this past fall as a book group facilitator at Monarch.  Since then, she has flourished in the classroom with her group of students. Meghan livens up the discussion by facilitating cooperative learning opportunities to encourage student participation. Her volunteer teammates often sing her praises, recognizing engaging ideas she brings to the classroom and the support she brings to the team.

In addition to her classroom support, she has helped spread the word about our programs and even recruited more volunteer support from her current employer, GoFundMe.

Meghan is a joy to work with and we feel lucky to have her in our program.  Thanks for the work you do for our community!

Check out the Volunteer of the Month Interview with Meghan Scripture below:

Tell us a little about yourself.
As a former military brat, I found that having my nose in a book was a way to bring comfort and familiarity to each new city and home. I majored in English because I simply couldn't imagine what else I could possibly be as interesting as reading and writing. Graduation and a job in sales had me itching for more, so at 26, I found myself in South Korea working as an ESL teacher. Two years later, my thirst for living abroad still wasn't quenched, so I joined the Peace Corps and was blessed to be placed in a remote Fula village in The Gambia- a tiny country known as the "Smiling Coast of Africa." Upon my return, I made my home in San Diego and am loving life on this very different, but equally amazing coast working for GoFundMe, a company I believe in.

How did you get involved with Words Alive?
One of the best parts of Peace Corps for me was meeting one my best friends, Jess Fryman, who introduced me to Words Alive after moving out to San Diego and finding a job that she was truly passionate about. I've become a huge fan of Words Alive and all the opportunities it brings to so many kids in the greater San Diego area.

What is the most rewarding part of your volunteer role(s)?
I'd say the most rewarding part of my volunteer experience so far has been the little moments. We've had a couple of sessions where the kids are excited about the topic that they just keep talking. It's also been a pleasant surprise to see that regardless of the topic, these young minds are mature and introspective in ways I just didn't expect. I feel at times they are teaching *me* a thing or two!

What have you been reading lately?
I'm currently reading Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. Apartheid is such a heavy topic, but he makes it so digestible with his impeccable comedic timing and wit.

National Volunteer Appreciation Month: What Are the Benefits of Volunteering?

By Jennifer Van Pelt

Two of our Adolescent Book Group volunteers facilitating a book discussion at La Mesa Blended Community School. Photo credit: goldfacephoto.com

Two of our Adolescent Book Group volunteers facilitating a book discussion at La Mesa Blended Community School. Photo credit: goldfacephoto.com

As we enter National Volunteering Month, take a moment to think to yourself: when is the last time you set aside a few hours to give back to your community? If it’s been longer than you would like to admit, you are similar to nearly 75% of Americans, according to 2015 data from the Corporation for National and Community Service. For those of you that perhaps don’t volunteer as often as you would like, take a look below at the amazing benefits that volunteering can give you!

Networking Opportunities

Volunteering brings people from many backgrounds together with the goal of working for one common cause. There is no better place to step outside your comfort zone and meet others. In the day and age of social media, you can easily stay in contact with those you meet at volunteering events to plan attending future events, expand your friend circle, or further your professional network.

Expand Your Skill Set

The basis of volunteering your time or services to a cause is that you are not being monetarily compensated -- you are donating it! This gives you the perfect opportunity to give your time or services in exchange for experience, something that you cannot put a price on and is invaluable for your degree, career, family, or personal development. Even if gaining experience isn’t a focus for you, you can discover a new hobby through your newfound skills.

Explore a New Career

Perhaps you have spent your entire career in one field, but have always wondered about a different career. Many volunteering organizations work just like companies: the position you are contemplating is very likely available in some sort of volunteering organization. Keep your day job, but test out your skills with a volunteering group on the side who have any number of positions available: Event planner, Outbound Marketing, Tutor, Social Media Specialist -- the opportunities are endless!

Your Own Well-Being

It would be difficult to find someone who finished a volunteering event not feeling great about themselves. Volunteering is ultimately for the benefit of others (though we know there’s a lot in it for you), so when you see how thankful others are for your services, you can’t help to be proud of your hard work! As discussed in an essay titled “Helper’s High” by James Baraz and Shoshana Alexander, people who give their time or money are 42% more likely to be happy. This aforementioned “Helper’s High” refers to the state of euphoria that is experienced when you give to others.

Picture of long-time Words Alive volunteer Karen Malin holding a flower pot craft containing pictures of the students she reads to! The flower pot says, "Ms. Karen, thank you for helping us grow." 

Picture of long-time Words Alive volunteer Karen Malin holding a flower pot craft containing pictures of the students she reads to! The flower pot says, "Ms. Karen, thank you for helping us grow." 

Improve Your Community

Communities thrive off the participation and engagement of those within them, and the drive to improve it from within. Volunteering opportunities focus on just that: teaching, improving the health, or providing much-needed services for the members of your community. If the members of a community are not their own biggest advocates for improvement, others may struggle to hear their voices.

The benefits of volunteering are endless, as are the opportunities. A quick Google search for volunteering opportunities in your area will yield millions of results. VolunteerMatch is the largest online volunteer network, or you can search directly for the cause you care about to see what opportunities are available! At Words Alive, we appreciate all of our hard-working volunteers, and we are always ready to welcome more! If you enjoy teaching, working with children, or just want to explore our available opportunities, head to our main site and Get Involved!

Sources:

https://www.nationalservice.gov/vcla/national

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_helpers_high

 

Giving Spotlight: Sandra Korwek, Danny Cung, and Chirstopher Weil & Company, Inc.

Picture of our Board Members Sandra Korwek (left) and Danny Cung (right).  Source .

Picture of our Board Members Sandra Korwek (left) and Danny Cung (right). Source.

In 1970, at the age of 33, Christopher Weil formed a broker-dealer firm and named it Christopher Weil & Company, Inc. (CWC). In 1990, he redesigned the company as a Registered Investment Advisor to act primarily as a financial advisory and investment management firm, as well as a sponsor of (mostly) real estate-based alternative assets. With ‘eating our own cooking’ (and only our own cooking) being a cornerstone of CWC’s Best Practices, Chris and his family are among the firm’s biggest clients (all three of his adult children work for the firm and his son-in-law is the President and CEO). Now, almost 50 years after the founding of his company, we are proud and grateful to have the support of the Weil Family in more ways than one.

The Patricia & Christopher Weil Family Foundation (WFF) has been financially
supporting Words Alive, and particularly our Family Literacy Program, for years. WFF creates educational opportunities by providing resources, time, and support to children and families in San Diego’s underserved communities.

In addition to financial support, we are thankful to have two employees from Christopher Weil & Company, Inc. donate their time and talent to Words Alive as members of our Board.

Danny Cung has been serving on our Board since 2014 and is our current Board Treasurer. Danny joined CWC full-time in 2006. Currently, Danny serves on CWC’s portfolio management team working to continuously balance clients' evolving needs with the opportunities and obstacles of the markets. He originally came to Words Alive by way of Rolling Readers; when the two organizations merged, it was a natural fit for him to join our team. Since 2014, Danny has been instrumental on our Finance Committee and Board, and we are so grateful for his time and support.

Sandra Korwek is one of our newest Board Members, but she has been a staple of the Words Alive volunteer family for years. Sandra has been serving on the Words Alive Finance Committee for three years, she currently serves on our Event Committee, and she was our Words Alive Volunteer of the Year in 2017. Sandra has over 35 years of accounting and business experience in various fields, including 17 years of operating her own accounting business specializing in nonprofit organizations. After moving to San Diego, she worked as the Business Manager for Mainly Mozart for six years before
eventually being recruited in 2006 to join the expanding accounting department at CWC. Sandra is now in charge of Contracts and Insurance for all of the many entities CWC manages.

A picture of Sandra Korweck holding her Volunteer of the Year Award at our 2017 Volunteer Appreciation Event.

A picture of Sandra Korweck holding her Volunteer of the Year Award at our 2017 Volunteer Appreciation Event.

Both Sandra and Danny have helped Words Alive thrive and grow, and we are excited to continue working with them, with Christopher Weil & Company, and with The Patricia & Christopher Weil Family Foundation.

If you or your company is interested in supporting or learning more about Words Alive, please email info@wordsalive.org! 

Karen Archer - Words Alive Volunteer of the Month - February 2018

 
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Please join us in congratulating Karen Archer - Words Alive Volunteer of the Month for February 2018!

Karen is a newer member of the Words Alive volunteer team, and in her first program year with us has helped pilot our Read Aloud Afterschool Program in Oceanside! 

Karen has been a real superstar in this important expansion to Oceanside.  She has always remained positive and committed as we have found our way with a new initiative, delivering in an after-school site, and delivering a new curriculum for 4th and 5th graders.  I could not have wished for a more flexible and passionate volunteer, who clearly shares in our mission to bring a real love of reading to our young readers.

Karen is also an avid participant in the organization’s volunteer events.  She makes an effort to attend each monthly Cookies and Conversation hour, contributing to great discussion.  We are very appreciative of the huge commitment in the classroom she honors each week, and we enjoy working with Karen.  Thank, Karen!

Check out the Volunteer of the Month Interview with Karen Archer below:

Tell us a little about yourself.
I’ve been married for almost 38 years.  My husband, Bob, and I have two boys and six grandchildren.  Unfortunately, half are in Connecticut and the other half are in Italy.  We moved from Connecticut to Carlsbad in 2003. It only took one winter to fall in love with Southern California.    I retired from my Family Law Paralegal position in June of 2016.  Then waited for Bob to retire from Pfizer in April 2017. When I’m not reading to the “wigglers,” as we refer to the children in the Read Aloud Program, I read on my own, do counted cross stitch and “clean” cook.  (I stay away from any processed foods, so I make my own vegetable broth, mayo, ketchup, BBQ sauce, ice cream, etc.)  Bob is a member of the Carlsbad Senior Volunteer Police.  We started our own business, Archer Woodcraft, so on weekends we sell household items such as hardwood cutting boards, wine caddies, tissue boxes, and custom furniture at the College of the Desert Street Fair.   We are busier than ever doing all the things we love.

How did you get involved with Words Alive?
I never managed to make the time to volunteer while I was working.  One of my "after retirement" goals was to find a way to help my community by doing something I’m passionate about. I found the Words Alive posting on Volunteer Match and couldn’t wait to start.  To be able to help young children find the joys of reading is perfect.    

What is the most rewarding part of your volunteer role(s)?
I absolutely love to watch the emotions roll across these young children's faces as a story unfolds.  They can’t wait to find out what book I’m going to read.  When I begin, they sit back, relax and come along for the adventure.  

What have you been reading lately?
I recently finished reading Daughters of the Night Sky by Aimie K. Runyan and am currently reading The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.  Both are wonderful reads.

Stacy Magic - Words Alive Volunteer of the Month - January 2018

 
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Please join us in congratulating Stacy Magic - Words Alive Volunteer of the Month for January 2018!

Stacy has been part of the Words Alive family since 2011 – volunteering in multiple capacities and roles. She has represented the organization at outreach events, supported the execution of the Author’s Luncheon and Fundraiser, and worked directly with students both in the classroom as a book group facilitator and as a scholarship student mentor.

This year, Stacy helped Words Alive open a new site for Adolescent Book Group (ABG). While facing challenges and growing pains that come with something new, she not only showed up week after week but excelled as a facilitator.  Stacy has a knack for prioritizing student responses, prodding students along and encouraging engagement, which often means waiting out those tough silent moments rather than allowing the adults to take up all the space. Last semester, she even gave students the opportunity to be facilitators themselves. Relinquishing control to give students the floor leaves the session open to many uncertainties, which, as we all know, can be a bit scary! Nevertheless, Stacy gave students that chance, always encouraging them along the way, and as a result - students gained confidence and showed leadership in impressive ways.

We’re so grateful for Stacy’s long-term support of the students and the Words Alive mission. Thank you for devoting years and hundreds of hours of service to the community!
 

Check out the Volunteer of the Month Interview with Stacy below:

Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Stacy Magic. I’ve volunteered time since college, primarily with organizations that promote reading: The Braille Institute, Rolling Readers, READ San Diego, and Words Alive. I grew up in Los Angeles, in a home with lots of books. 

How did you get involved with Words Alive?
I heard about Words Alive while on the board of directors at San Diego Writers, Ink, an organization which provides classes in writing, author readings and signings, and other literary events. I was drawn to the mission Words Alive has created for itself, which, in my interpretation, is to share the joy and importance of reading to as many people as possible.

What is the most rewarding part of your volunteer role(s)?
The most rewarding part of volunteering at Words Alive is, in the immediate, getting to see teens get excited about a book, and, in the long term, about their future.

What have you been reading lately?
I’m listening to A Clash of Kings in the car. I have The Golem and the Jinni on my Nook. And, on my nightstand, I have Y is for Yesterday, Sue Grafton’s final A thru Z book. I’ve read A thru X and love Ms. Grafton’s character, Kinsey Millhone. That’s what I like to share: you meet the coolest people in books.

 

April Hayter de Lopez - Words Alive Volunteer of the Month - November 2017

 
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Please join us in congratulating April Hayter de Lopez - Words Alive Volunteer of the Month for November!

April started with Words Alive in 2012 as a reader in our Read Aloud Program.  She then transitioned to the Adolescent Book Group (ABG) program.  For the past three years, April has successfully volunteered in North county sites to facilitate the book group, and has led both volunteer teams and students to have an amazing experience with the program!

April is the lead volunteer at Innovations Academy of Empowerment, where the book group meets every other week. She is a positive and motivating force who keeps her volunteer team and their sessions on track.  She is always open to trying new ideas to increase student engagement.  Thanks for all you do to make our program successful!

Check out the Volunteer of the Month Interview with April below:

Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is April Hayter de Lopez. I am starting my third year at Words Alive.  I love to read and have been in a book group for many years. In fact, members of my book group are the ones who got me interested in Words Alive. I really love to be with kids, so when my own went off to college, Words Alive gave me the perfect opportunity to continue to connect with teens. I work with the elderly as a social worker, so I feel privileged to work with people on both ends of the age spectrum.

What is the most rewarding part of your volunteer role(s)?
The most rewarding part of volunteering for me is when I'm talking with a teen and feel a spark, an interest between us, as we discuss books and life. I am excited when someone who doesn't particularly like reading gets hooked into a story and wants to read ahead.  When a teen can relate to the story or to a character from their own life, it is wonderful.

What have you been reading lately?
I am currently reading An Unquiet Mind by Kay Jamison, and Feed by M T Anderson.

Max Greenhalgh - Words Alive Volunteer of the Month - October 2017

 
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Please join us in congratulating Max Greenhalgh – Words Alive Volunteer of the Month for October 2017!

Max joined the Words Alive office this past summer for a volunteer internship in development and communication.  On average, he worked ten hours a week, contributing to numerous projects and areas of focus. Max was instrumental in developing our summer content for social media and assisting with blog posts. His professional writing skills added a great new voice to our publications.

Max’s work ethic and commitment was evident in his very first week of interning with us. For one, Max graciously volunteered extra time to help with a huge book giveaway event we were hosting at Golden Hill K-8 School. He not only helped load and set-up hundreds of books, but on the day of the event he was a helpful and energetic presence. Max also used his journalistic sensibilities and helped write a blog post about this incredible event after the fact.

In all his work with us, Max gave 110% and worked with the utmost level of maturity and professionalism.  His writing always impressed us, as did his ability to run with new assignments.  He is a dependable and consistent volunteer, and we have been so lucky to work with him!

Now a senior at Canyon Crest Academy, he continues to contribute to his school newspaper and stay busy with classes and college preparation.  We wish him the best this year, and hope to work with him again in the future.
 

Check out the Volunteer of the Month Interview with Max below :

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Max Greenhalgh, and I am a senior at Canyon Crest Academy. I am the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Pulse Magazine, the student magazine of CCA, and am the Council Chair of the Leadership Council for Teen Volunteers in Action, an organization of middle and high school boys that volunteer at numerous different philanthropies. In my spare time, I love to read, write, and play basketball with my friends. I’m currently working on the college admissions process, and I am applying as a political science major at most of the schools where I’m applying.

How did you get involved with Words Alive?

This past spring, I was looking for an interesting, meaningful way to spend some of my time in the summer. It was a great match given my interests in reading and volunteering.

What is the most rewarding part of your volunteer role(s)?

My role was mostly in the office working on promotional and social media tasks. However, helping at a book giveaway at Golden Hill School was memorable. I really enjoyed working with students and teachers at the school, and suggesting that students looking for books consider books from multiple series that I loved when I was their age. I was able to return to the school about a week later, and some of the kids recognized me and thanked me for coming out to help.

What are you reading lately?

I’ll be honest - I haven’t really had time to dive into a book of my choice recently. However, I find time to read online material and I’ve been reading articles concerning the removal of books like Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird from district reading lists across the country over the years. As someone who really enjoyed reading To Kill a Mockingbird in 8th grade, seeing it taken off reading lists is equal parts troubling and interesting to me. The book promotes diversity, open dialogue, and standing strong on principles, all of which are great messages to send young readers.

 

Words Alive Welcomes Erin, AmeriCorps VIP Fellow

 
Erin with Cape Buffalo in South Africa.

Erin with Cape Buffalo in South Africa.

 

Erin joined the Words Alive Family in early September through the AmeriCorps Program, and will be working us for the 2017-2018 year.  Her focus with the organization will be in volunteer infrastructure, and she will be a fixture at upcoming program and volunteer events.  So far, Erin has hit the ground running - taking on community outreach and recruitment to staff our programs and spread the word about our impact.

We hope you get to meet her soon, if you have not yet!  Now, let's hear from Erin herself!

What intrigued you about Words Alive?

After learning about the wonderful programs and overall mission of Words Alive I immediately knew this was the right place for me. I’m delighted to be working for an organization which not only promotes literacy and fosters a love of reading, but which also takes on the task of placing thousands of books into the hands of hundreds of families and children each year (I’m a firm believer that reading from a physical book is more wonderful and beneficial than any e-reader). I’m amazed to think of the impact Words Alive has on the community through the simple yet powerful act of reading and I am honored to be part of it.

What are you most excited about in your new position?

There are so many things that excite me about working with the Words Alive team! First and foremost, I’m thrilled to work with people who are passionate about bringing the benefits of reading into our community through such amazing programs. I look forward to helping Christina recruit and train more volunteers and I am eager to get into the classrooms to see our incredible volunteers in action. I’m also excited to learn more about non-profit structure and behind-the-scenes operations.

What is your relationship with literacy?

As a child I always had my nose in a book, most often historical fiction or books about the natural world (my degree is in Wildlife Conservation Biology).  My adult nose tends to be in fewer books but I still love reading and cherish its ability to easily transport one to new places and times. In the last several years I’ve waded through mostly college textbooks but with my recent graduation I hope to return to one of my favored pastime; leisure reading historical novels.

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Pirates of Barbary by Adrian Tinniswood. It’s about the many adventures of the pirates who sailed the high seas of the Mediterranean during the 17th century. 

 

 
Erin feeding Eastern Grey Kangaroos in Tasmania.

Erin feeding Eastern Grey Kangaroos in Tasmania.

 

Currently, there are no employment opportunities at Words Alive, but we are ALWAYS recruiting for wonderful volunteers to work in the classrooms with our students and families. Check out how to get involved as a Words Alive volunteer!

Kitty McGee - Words Alive Volunteer of the Month - September 2017

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Please join us in congratulating Kitty McGee – Words Alive Volunteer of the Month for September 2017!

Kitty joined the Words Alive Event Committee this past spring, and jumped right in as a new member, contributing her graphic design skill set.  She has a wealth of corporate design experience which she generously applied to the creation of our wonderful Author’s Luncheon and Fundraiser event material as well as general Words Alive outreach collateral. We offered a new feature at the event this year – the Words Alive Passport – which Kitty designed as well.  The passport was a huge success and encouraged guests to visit each table to learn about the work of the organization.  Kitty has also been a great new source of special event expertise, and helped with soliciting silent auction items for the event.

Kitty has been an integral part of this committee and organization, providing fresh ideas and perspective.  She volunteered to support at the event as well.  We are so grateful for her volunteer service and her part in our successful event!  Thank you, Kitty!

Check out the Volunteer of the Month Interview with Kitty below:

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a freelance graphic designer, with a specialty in editorial and corporate print design. I am the former art director of several magazines, including American Airlines American Way, America West Magazine, TWA’s Ambassador magazine, Arizona Trend, and Texas Homes. I received my degree in journalism from Northern Arizona University, and am currently a licensed private pilot and a member of BIA Toastmasters.

Though currently attempting to retire, I still have a few clients/friends who keep me busy. I am now available to pursue some pro bono work when not traveling, riding a boogie board, or paddling a kayak.

How did you get involved with Words Alive?

I first heard of Words Alive through one of my book clubs, and then followed through with Andrea MacDonald, who happens to be the daughter-in-law of my neighbor. (It takes a village……!)

What is the most rewarding part of your volunteer role(s)?

The most rewarding part of this particular volunteer role is the ability to bring a level of professional design to a group that wouldn’t normally have access to it due to economics. And then to delight those clients is priceless!

What are you reading lately?

What’s on my nightstand?  Well, Salman Rushdie of course!  Along with The Soul of an Octopus (Sy Montgomery, found at the Atlanta Aquarium), and The Little French Bistro (Nina George, from a Warwick’s event).