Monday, December 10, 2012

2012 Reflection

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”

― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

The end of the year will soon be upon us and it is the perfect time for me to reflect on my incredible experiences with Project READ. I have had the good fortune to meet so many kind and generous people. I feel a deep gratitude toward the learners.  I have learned so much from them and I will always carry their spirit of geniality with me whenever I think of Project READ. The staff is extraordinary as they have always encouraged and supported me in whatever volunteer project I have been involved in, whether it was one-on-one tutoring, being a table monitor for Summer FLIC or stuffing envelopes, to name just a few.  On top of fulfilling my dream of being a tutor, I have also had the extreme pleasure of writing for the blog. This assignment has taught me to be a better person as I have had the privilege of working with people who have transformed their lives in such positive ways.

I invite you to be a volunteer for Project READ and be a part of a team that is committed to helping people of all ages. There are many ways in which you can donate your time. Please pick up a brochure and find out what works best for you and see how you can make a difference in your community.

I wish you all a bright and happy holiday season!

Loretta Farris  
Loretta Farris is a Project READ volunteer tutor and writes monthly Project READ blogs about our learners, families, volunteers and events . She has been awarded the "Spirit of Project READ Award" along with her learner Evelyn for their commitment to Project READ. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Project READ's Annual BBQ & Awards Ceremony

 Loretta's View of the BBQ!
The skies were a vibrant blue with just a hint of a cooling breeze as Project READ (P.R.) hosted its annual BBQ and Awards Celebration at the Community Activities Building in Redwood City. This year’s theme was “Pirates through the years”. As I walked through the entrance into the colorfully decorated hall, I was greeted by a motley crew of pirates. “Captain” Joanne, her “first mate” Jean, Chelsea  and Matthew the beloved “go-fors” assisted the arrivals. Jayita and Cecilia, a tutor/learner pair, handed out name tags as they signed in the numerous volunteers for the day. 
The children were given re-usable tote bags to decorate at the crafts table led by Maryanne, who is a volunteer for HOBA (Hands on Bay Area) as well as other volunteers from this incredible non-profit organization.  These volunteers also helped the kids to assemble eye-catching pirate hats and had fun creating pirate puzzles.
Long tables were set up with multi-colored balloons awaiting the delicious BBQ to be served later in the day. Opposite the tables, teen tutors Leslie and Marie were selling P.R. T-Shirts. Pam Patek, Youth (FIP) & Small Group Student/Tutor Coordinator, was in charge of the “Guess How Many Gold and Silver Coins” game. She says “there were tons of guesses” as people counted the coins from top to bottom, sideways and even picked up the jar to guess how many it held. The actual amount was 586 and Sara Martinez won with a guess of 589.
At last it was time to present the “Spirit of Project READ Awards”. Kathy Endaya, Director of Project READ addressed the crowd with an eloquent and thoughtful speech acknowledging the various entities such as “Redwood City Friends of Literacy” and the many volunteers that contribute so much to the success of Project READ. This year Angele Echele, Adult & Families (FFL) Student/Tutor Coordinator, honored the Adult Tutoring pair, Larry Knox and Trivan Lovings. Gil Gatea, Family Literacy Center Student /Tutor Coordinator and Brigid Walsh, Student/Tutor Coordinator honored Teen Tutor Katherine Ruiz. Pam Patek honored the Adult Tutor with Child pair, Gabriela Ake and Annie Georges. It was wonderful to see the beaming faces of all the honorees. Following the awards, yummy desserts were served courtesy of the kitchen crew.
Loretta Farris is a Project READ volunteer tutor and writes monthly Project READ blogs about our learners, families, volunteers and events . She has been awarded the "Spirit of Project READ Award" along with her learner Evelyn for their commitment to Project READ.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Irlanda Castellanos and Carla Vargas: Adult Pair

When Angele Echele, Adult & Families (FFL) Student/Tutor coordinator, first met Irlanda Castellanos her goals were to read, write and speak English better. She had many reasons for improving her English speaking skills; however the main reason was for her job. She would try to speak English with her co-workers instead of Spanish whenever possible. Her desire to develop her English speaking skills goes beyond just practicing at her job, but it is also important during her daily activities.

“Every time we meet, it is a different experience,”says Carla Vargas who tutors Irlanda on a weekly basis. They usually start a tutoring session with what’s currently happening and then the session takes on a life of its own. Carla told me her teaching style is based on, “…how we really speak. This includes both the academic world and the practical world. Sometimes I will use slang words.” Her teaching tools include books or magazines that focus on real life issues or stories. For instance, Carla recently brought in VIA Magazine and they read an article about San Francisco because Irlanda was planning a trip to visit the beautiful city. She learned all kinds of useful information which made her more excited for her upcoming adventure.

There are times during a tutoring session when a tutor can only respond to an answer by saying “because”. I’m sure many tutors have experienced this at one time or another. Carla says, “It’s crazy, sometimes you just don’t have an answer.” The English language can be difficult and explaining how a certain rule applies can be challenging; sometimes we just don’t know. I can relate to this in my own tutoring experiences. When Irlanda has a hard time trying to translate a word from Spanish to English she will say, “Como se dice” (how do you say?). This has been a kind of a joke between them, but since they have been working together for a long time, Carla remarks, “Irlanda has gone months without saying ‘como se dice?’!’” Irlanda doesn’t give up easily. She recently passed her Level I Grammar class at Cañada College and commented on how Carla was instrumental in her success.

I asked Carla why she became a tutor and she replied, “My mother-in-law was Barbara Greenalch and was one of the first volunteers at Project READ. She loved Project READ and had fun with the Trivia Bee; she was my inspiration.” Carla truly loves working with Irlanda as she is always open to new suggestions. Irlanda says, “Carla is a nice person. She is not strict, but funny. I am not nervous or stressed when I work with her. ” Carla became misty eyed in response to Irlanda’s kind words, and it warmed my heart to witness this sincere interaction between tutor and learner.

Loretta Farris is a Project READ volunteer tutor and writes monthly Project READ blogs about our learners, families, volunteers and events . She has been awarded the "Spirit of Project READ Award" along with her learner Evelyn for their commitment to Project READ. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Write a letter for Literacy!

Let the state know how important Project READ and literacy services are to you. Please send a letter-- in just 3 minutes you can "click and send" a letter to a legislator. Help us secure much-needed state funding, so that Project READ can continue to provide literacy services to our community.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Prashars: A Project READ Family

Rimple Prashar and her eleven-year old daughter Kelly and five-year old son Kushel come to Project READ three to four times a week. Originally from Punjabi, India, English is Rimple’s second language. Her native language is Hindi; however, she learned English during her high school years, and she receives tutoring from Project READ weekly. She is a busy homemaker and doesn’t have enough time to read leisurely, but she always makes time to read to her son at night. “I love this program, and I also receive tutoring from my daughter!” Project READ allows that additional time together, and they never stop learning as individuals and as a family.

In addition to school, Kelly has a second-degree black belt in Tae Kwando. Kelly loves coming to the library. In fourth grade her teacher referred her to Project READ to help her out with her reading skills and she’s been coming ever since. Kelly loves working with Gil Gaeta, the Family Literacy Center Student /Tutor Coordinator and Monique Rodriquez. Kelly says, “They really help me, especially with my math.” I asked Kelly about reading and she replied, “Reading is really good, I get help with the meaning of words.” She likes to read mystery novels and crime books. Kelly is also a pre-teen tutor, “I like the kids, especially the little ones, Kindergarten through second grade. The kids choose the books they want me to read.” I asked her if she wanted a family of her own when she grew up and she said, “Yes I would like to read to them.”
Like his big sister Kelly, Kushel takes Tae Kwando and likes to swim. He is a gentle little boy who is learning how to read at Project READ from the great teen volunteers.  His mother was surprised about how much Kushel has progressed. His favorite stories to read are Batman comic books. I think Kelly sums up her experience at Project READ not only for herself, but her family as well when she says, “Project READ is a great place to get tutoring. You don’t feel shy, you feel comfortable and that makes you want to come here. No one pushes you to do something you don’t want to.”
When my interview is done, I take a picture of the Prashar Family and head to the office where the staff works. I had the pleasure of running into Kathy Endaya, the director of Project READ. I briefly summarize my interview and Kathy appreciates what  Kelly says about Project READ and adds that the program provides “a flexibility of learning”. 

Loretta Farris is a Project READ volunteer tutor and writes monthly Project READ blogs about our learners, families, volunteers and events . She has been awarded the "Spirit of Project READ Award" along with her learner Evelyn for their commitment to Project READ.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Madison and Katherine

As I was interviewing Madison, a fourth grader from Clifford School, her grandma Marilyn, smiling widely comes to take her home.  Madison and her grandma come to the library almost every day, every other week. Grandma Marilyn has been bringing her granddaughter to the library ever since she was a baby. They both like to read and over the years have formed a friendship with Jackie and Christine, both librarians in the Kids section. Just last month, Madison learned about Project READ from one of the librarians, so she could receive help doing her homework. Marilyn confessed that “she doesn’t know math [homework]” so she was thrilled about Madison getting help.
Madison mainly works with Katherine, her teen tutor. She says, “Katherine is awesome! She helps me think about words and how to spell them.” Madison not only receives help with her homework, but she also gets to play games and have fun. “Katherine knows how to play “Connect 4!” When Katherine is not available, Madison works with other volunteer tutors, whom she thinks are “nice and helpful.”
Katherine is a junior at Sequoia High school and became interested with Project READ after attending a presentation about the program at school. Brigid Walsh, Youth KIP (Kids in Partnership) student/tutor coordinator and Monique Rodriguez, KIP/FLIC (Family Literacy Instructional Center) program assistant addressed the student body along with the help of AmeriCorps volunteers. After her interview, Katherine became a teen tutor in the FLIC and KIP programs. She satisfies her community service hours by doing something she loves which is working with kids, a win-win situation! Her cousin Gaby is a KIP tutor too. I asked Katherine what she liked most about Project READ and she simply replied, “Everything!”

Loretta Farris is a Project READ volunteer tutor and writes monthly Project READ blogs about our learners, families, volunteers and events . She has been awarded the "Spirit of Project READ Award" along with her learner Evelyn for their commitment to Project READ.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Project READ Family Spotlight: The Castro Family

As I approach the Castro family, they are all concentrating on their various activities in the Project READ tutoring center (FLIC). Rebecca is teaching Karen, her youngest daughter the sounds of the alphabet using brightly colored magnetic letters. Michele, her middle daughter, is focused on doing her homework. Abril, her eldest daughter, is occupied with her tutor Marie just a few tables away.
Rebecca has been involved with Project READ for over six years. She was the first in her family to receive tutoring sessions in order to improve her English. Rebecca says “the staff is really nice. I don’t speak English well and they helped me. I like all of them, and I really feel confident speaking with them.” She currently works with Sarah, her tutor, once a week mainly focusing on grammar and math. She wanted to describe Sarah to me but felt nice and patient didn’t adequately define her, so I suggested she look up the word nice in a thesaurus. Beaming with certainty she exclaimed, “Sarah is friendly, kindly, lovely and polite.”
Michele’s been going to Project READ with her mother ever since she was a baby. Since starting school, she loves doing homework with Monique, her favorite tutor and a KIP/FLIC program assistant. Little Karen adores Story Hour and playing games with her mother. 
Abril loves volleyball, basketball and soccer. When it’s time to study, she receives assistance from Marie twice a week. Marie works as an attorney for Special Immigration Law and Foreign Immigration, specializing in matters involving children. She “helps out on the ground level” with tutoring. Marie goes on to say that, “Abril is a bright and sweet girl, it’s fun working with her.” Abril feels the same way, “Marie is nice and she actually does help.”
Over the years, the Castro family has benefitted from the various programs offered by Project READ. They have improved their reading skills and developed confidence during the process. They have made lasting friendships with the staff, their peers and tutors. It definitely is a family affair when it comes to the lovely Castro clan and Project READ.   

Loretta Farris is a Project READ volunteer tutor and writes monthly Project READ blogs about our learners, families, volunteers and events . She has been awarded the "Spirit of Project READ Award" along with her learner Evelyn for their commitment to Project READ.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Emily & Noel-- FIP Pair

What eight-year-old Emily likes best about school is seeing her friends. She also sees her friends while attending tutoring sessions at Project READ. Noel, her tutor, has been helping Emily with reading and homework for six months and meeting three times a week. “Emily likes to read, but needs help with math, especially her times tables” says Noel. You can tell by Emily’s lovely wide smile that she likes working with Noel; she thinks “he’s funny” and he makes her laugh. Emily not only likes Project READ, she enjoys Project READ’s monthly Story Hour and the magicians and other performers that come to the library each month.
Noel was a volunteer tutor in Great Britain before coming to the United States. A friend from the county of San Mateo and fellow volunteer introduced Noel to Project READ. With some spare time on his hands, he became a tutor over four years ago.
When Noel finishes working with his learner, he’s stays to help out other learners in the FLIC drop-in program. Noel’s enthusiasm for the program is evident when he explains that “Project READ offers a safe environment. It gets the kids out of the house and away from T.V. and gives them a better outlook which carries throughout their high school education and beyond.  Project READ is a good program.” He truly believes he’s making a difference.