Date(s) & Time(s)::
October 11, 2012 at 9:30 AM
Location: Brentwood Elementary
United Way of Allen County’s Real Men Read volunteer program will kick off its fifth year on Thursday, October 11, 2012. Real Men Read, which is coordinated by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana, is aimed at helping local children read at grade level by the end of third grade. This is an important milestone, as reading proficiency is a critical step to academic success.
“The Real Men Read program is a great example of the work at United Way, our agency partners and Education Network,” said Dr. Jeanne Zehr, director of community impact at United Way. “The volunteers involved with this program go into second and third grade classrooms to offer children a male role model who is enthusiastic about learning.”
Dianna Chadd, principal at Brentwood Elementary, echoed Zehr’s sentiments. “I love having this program at Brentwood Elementary. It is important for students to see men of all walks of life sharing their love of reading,” said Chadd. “Second and third grades are critical years for students learning to read. Real Men Read excites students to pick up new books and develop their own love of reading.”
In spring 2012, 85 percent of third graders in Allen County passed the language portion of the ISTEP exams. This was up from 72 percent in 2008. Along with focused efforts of our local schools, United Way and other youth-serving agencies, known as the Education Network, have concentrated resources and volunteers on helping area children succeed in school so that they can be successful in life.
This Thursday, more than 200 volunteers will visit area second and third grade classrooms to read to kids and engage them in discussions about the stories. Volunteers visit the classrooms once per month from October through March and, upon finishing each book, give out copies to all of the students to help build home libraries as well. Many of the volunteers for Real Men Read also donate to United Way and advocate for others to get involved.
“I feel it is important to be engaged in the community in which you live,” said Clifford Clarke, executive director of computer and technology services at Ivy Tech Community College, local entrepreneur, Real Men Read volunteer and longtime United Way donor. “Education is extremely important and through Real Men Read, I can be a positive male role model for both the children in the classroom and the teachers.”
Clarke also encourages other volunteers to get involved with United Way. “My wife and I are longtime donors to United Way,” stated Clarke. “I’ve also been an ambassador for the organization and encouraged individuals and businesses to give to United Way because of the extent of their impact in our community.”
“Volunteers like Clifford are often the norm at United Way,” said Todd Stephenson, president and CEO of United Way of Allen County. “We are fortunate and grateful to have key volunteers that embody the LIVE UNITED theme and give, advocate and volunteer on behalf of our organization and our community.”
Individuals wanting to volunteer with United Way or other area programs to help local youth succeed in school can visit United Way’s Education Network online to find a fitting opportunity at www.UWEducationNetwork.org or contact Ruthie Krueger at 469-4002 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Individuals wanting to give to United Way can contact Chris Rouse, director of resource development, at 469-4001 or email@example.com or go online at www.UnitedWayAllenCounty.org.
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