Monday I got to visit Read Around the Block. The kids were playing outside when I arrived and three little girls were searching around in what will be the garden. They were looking for items “with different textures,” they told me.
Some of the volunteers were inside preparing nachos for snack and giving input into a project they’re doing with the kids.
Once inside, the kids listened to story and did jazz hands whenever they heard a verb. Then the art in the book was pointed out. Later in the day, they would take their different textured items and paint with them, similar to the book illustrations.
When it was time to read with an adult reading friend, I noticed that the kids knew the drill, where to go, what to do. They were comfortable in the structure of the program. Little kids who used to be so very quiet had come out of their shells and were enjoying themselves. Kids who used to be disruptive had matured. The third grader I read with kept complimenting the first grader in our group on her reading. Our first grader had read Goldilocks to us. Afterward the third grader suggested that we try it with different voices for the father, mother, and baby bear. So we each took a part. At a child’s suggestion.
I watched a little girl who had struggled in every way sitting with an adult and writing a thank you note.
And to tell you the truth, it all touches my heart because I know that each little episode of growth and development moves a child (or an adult) toward his or her potential. And the potential quotient at Read Around the Block is massive.
And yet, guess what. We have more kids in Read Around the Block than adults to read with them. So we are often unable to do one on one reading, with the individual attention the kids love. In addition, we have kids on a waiting list. We have new children and families showing up at the door during Read Around the Block, and we have to say we are full and are not able to accept new kids.
We could expand to more days. We could use more than one location. There are ways to respond, but without the committed adults, those little kids will not get in.
I am thanking God for the amazing staff and volunteers who come from near and far, some from our neighborhood, some from Pinckney. They are my heroes!
But I am praying for more! What if we had enough adults, high school age and up, so that the kids in our current program could receive individual attention? What if we had enough volunteers to open up more days to include the children on the waiting list? What if we could welcome the children at the door? Would you pray with us? And if it turns out that you are an answer to our prayers, go to hopehousedetroit.org and click on Volunteer.
-Becky Gentry, Hope House Detroit Executive Director