Greenwich United Way Reading Champions Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary

Marie Wardell, Diane Garrett, Kaitlin Debellis, Betsy Coons. Contributed photo

The Greenwich United Way volunteer program, Reading Champions, turns ten this year.

The program was inspired by Greenwich resident and retired teacher, Joan Lowe, who guided the program in collaboration with Greenwich Public Schools during the fall of 2008 at North Mianus School.

Today the program has expanded to engage over 100 active volunteers who reach over 400 students each year in all Greenwich elementary schools, the YWCA of Greenwich, Boys & Girls Club, and the after-school program at Byram Archibald Neighborhood Center (BANC).

Lowe approached the Greenwich United Way with the concept of launching a program to improve the reading fluency skills of elementary school children in Greenwich. After volunteering outside of the town to help children, Lowe felt that the need also existed in her hometown.

The Greenwich United Way collaborated with Greenwich Public Schools to create a curriculum that could be used by trained United Way tutors during regular school hours.

“I’m in awe of how quickly this program grew. …I am extremely appreciative of the longstanding weekly commitment of volunteers who dedicate their time and enthusiasm,” Lowe said.

Last October David Rabin announced that the Greenwich United Way is planning to built on the success of the Reading Champions to include Math, Finance and Coding in the future.

Champions Program Coordinator, Cecile Meunier, recently hired to provide management and oversight to all Champions Programs, said there are volunteer opportunities for everyone.

“We have high-school students from Sacred Heart who volunteer at our after-school programs all the way up to retirees who volunteer an hour per week to the program,”¬†Meunier said. “It is one of the most rewarding experiences for those wanting to make an impact in their community.”

An annual volunteer appreciation recognition event is scheduled for May followed by Reading Champions Award ceremonies slated for later this spring.

To become a trained volunteer, request more information or make a donation, contact Meunier through email (cmeunier@greenwichunitedway.org) or visit Greenwich United Way online (greenwichunitedway.org).

Greenwich United Way Reading Champions, in partnership with the Greenwich Public Schools, is a literacy program pairing Greenwich youth with trained community volunteers in an effort to build fluency skills during the school year.

Since 2008, Reading Champions volunteers have assisted over 3,000 children in achieving individual reading goals in fluency. Over 100 volunteer tutors contribute an average of 4000+ volunteer hours each year. By enabling students to obtain immediate feedback and receive one-on-one personal attention, the program has been a resounding and proven success. In conjunction with the Greenwich Public School reading curriculum, Reading Champions contributes to the development and growth of students’ fluency. Currently, Greenwich United Way Reading Champions serves all 11 elementary schools in Greenwich and the Byram Archibald Neighborhood Center (BANC), Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich (BGCG), and the YWCA of Greenwich. Volunteer tutors are trained, no teaching experience is needed, and tutoring opportunities are always available. For more information contact Greenwich United Way at 203-869-2221 or cmeunier@greenwichunitedway.org.