Volunteer Reader Spotlight: A Year with our VRP Associate
AmeriCorps Member Ariana Meyrich-Blomquist brought to her year of service a background rich in writing skills and tutoring. She felt that she wanted to learn the management side of volunteering, and decided to dedicate a year to United Way’s Volunteer Reader Program as our Program Associate. She was surprised at how much it takes behind the scenes to run a program.
She set out to recruit community members at events and volunteer fairs. She made many connections and got the word out about our program.
A big task that Ariana took on was to manage all of our volunteer readers. This included registration, orientation, recognition, lots of communication, ongoing education, technical assistance and more!
One way that Ariana is able to relate to our volunteers is by being a Volunteer Reader herself and sharing her love of reading with the children at two sites- Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA) and Little Eagles. The children all know Ariana and are eager to read with her. One little girl at ReWA always insists on being the first to read with Ariana, has to hold every book along with her, and never misses a word following along as she reads. The children at Little Eagles love when she reads Please, Puppy, Please–relishing their role repeating those three words over and over and over, long after the story has ended.
Ariana has made many strides for our program. She piloted our Reader Mentor program which enables readers to reach out to one another and have a mentor at their site who they can ask questions of. She also planned and coordinated our first Reader Gathering which brought our volunteers together to socialize and learn from a panel of experts! Oh and did I mention her writing skills? Ariana has written our e-newsletters, our volunteer profiles, Facebook posts and more.
Ariana is headed for the Westside School in the fall to be an assistant teacher with their 4th graders. She is happy to be going back to a school schedule because she misses having the summer off. While the 4th graders will have moved on from Please, Puppy, Please, we know they’ll be just as crazy about her as the preschoolers are. We can’t thank her enough for all she has done. We will truly miss her and wish her the best!