Cute boy reading book in library


Have you considered being a volunteer mentor in a classroom, helping children read? Here’s the experience of one volunteer who signed up through Metropolitan Family Services.

The headline on the ad read, “Volunteer! Help Children Read.”

“Hey, that sounds like fun. I bet I could do that,” I thought when I saw the ad in the Concordia News. But I’m no teacher. What could I really do? Would I be in a classroom, choose my own books? Would the teacher guide me? How much time would it take?

Here’s what I found out: I’m in a classroom, I can choose my own books and word games or use those provided, I have guidance and input from the teacher, and I’m in class about eight hours every week but I could be there as few as four. Volunteers who earn a stipend serve about 10 hours a week.

When I contacted Metropolitan Family Service, which administers the AARP Experience Corps program, I learned that it’s nationwide and has been operating for many years. Older adult volunteers are carefully screened, interviewed by Metropolitan Family Service staff, and given 12 hours of training in literacy strategies and building relationships before being assigned to classrooms that have requested them. More training is conducted throughout the year.

Teachers identify four vulnerable students who would benefit from tutoring and match them to a volunteer with whom the children will work one-on-one or in small groups. Although volunteers work most intensely with their matches, they also provide literacy assistance to other children while in the classroom.

I’ve been at Prescott Elementary for the past four years, the last two years in kindergarten. What a dramatic difference it makes to work with young children. In just a few minutes at a time, a few days a week, a child can learn not just letters and sounds, but words and sentences.

Of note

Volunteer for our Experience Corps team and help children read. Volunteers are especially needed in Fairview, Gresham and Portland. Send an email to or call 503-290-9427.

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