For the first time since the pandemic closed indoor gatherings Read With Me Volunteer Programs could be its annual Honorary award of the year on Wednesday, May 19, with limited seating and guests of honor. The smile in the room at Hope Lutheran Church in Palm Desert was evident that those present were enjoying the freedom to celebrate in a small gathering.
At the head of the event was the energetic founder and president of RWMVP, Roberta Klein. Klein and her husband Clay, founded the non-profit 15 years ago to help disadvantaged children from families where families only spoke Spanish to learn, read, and understand English.
Over the years, volunteers have worked in the classrooms under the direction of a teacher in 14 schools; seven of these schools are in remote sections of the eastern Coachella Valley. During the recent school closings due to COVID-19, Klein and her team developed an alternative plan to teach 200 volunteers, most of whom were seniors, how to teach about Zoom. Meanwhile, the volunteers spent more than 8,000 hours in the past year, continuing the inspiring work of tutoring remotely rather than personally.
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Pastor Derek Fossey of Hope Lutheran Church greeted everyone and said the opening prayer before introducing the Master of Ceremonies Patrick Evans, Chief Meteorologist of KESQ, as well as the newly appointed board member of RWMVP. Evans accompanied Klein to the podium.
Klein said $ 475,000 is the RWMVP budget for the upcoming school year, which starts July 1 and runs through June 30, 2022. The biggest expense has always been the placement of more than 300 volunteers. Since normal use of public school buses would not be possible this year, RWMVP had to sign a contract with a private company at a cost of nearly $ 100,000.
“That means our nonprofit still has to raise $ 378.00 to cover volunteer recruitment, background checks, registration, training and classwork, and providing books for the children and materials for the schools,” Klein said .
Small then invited Edwin Gomez, the newly appointed superintendent of the Riverside County Office of Education, where he made a stunning announcement that his agency has committed to fund the entire $ 97,000 bussing budget through a special grant for the 2021 school year. 22 finance.
“The Riverside County Education Department is honored to partner with Read With Me through a transportation grant to connect adult volunteers with student readers, ”said Gomez. “We know the impact and power of the Read With Me volunteer programs personally. These programs are having an incredible impact in helping our students become competent and capable readers. “
Evans invited the following volunteers to receive their special awards: Arlis Clarke, Wes Davis, Gladys Koaleff, Peggy Mathieson, Adrienne Lynne Silva, Darrel Cozen, Nat Tinnerino, Sasha Dourov, Sylvia Benoit, Thomas Myers, Jennifer Ridewood, Rich Funari, Christine Hughes, Anna and Charlie Fletcher, Lynn Bärsch, Patricia Peters and Donna Piszczor.
For more information or to become a volunteer, call (760) 567-1830, email [email protected], or visit readwithmevolunteers.com.
DeAnn Lubell, author, novelist and publicist, has represented non-profit organizations and companies in the fields of marketing, event planning and fundraising productions in the Coachella Valley since 1991. She has been a publicist for the McCallum Theater since 2016 and is PR and Marketing and Representative for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley and Read With Me Volunteer Programs as well as her own, newly formed non-profit organization Amy’s Purpose, an education and counseling service for animal safety and predator awareness .