Camden – Smiles abounded among preschool children as a team of AmeriCorp VISTAs along with Camden City Mayor Dana Redd visited Head Start classrooms for a morning of one-to-one as part of a large scale initiative called Born to Read which promotes grade level reading Camden City.
"The children's eyes light up when we sit with them for one-to-one reading", said Diana Husanu, AmeriCorp VISTA serving to recruit, train, and place Born to Read volunteers. "We read books selected by the child and we encourage a love of reading."
Born to Read is seeking volunteers to commit to one hour a week in a Head Start classroom to promote early literacy skills and kindergarten readiness. Early reading skills are fundamental in providing an important foundation for all education skills--reading, writing, and all other subject areas.The statistics indicate that kids from low-income communities know one third as many words as their middle-class peers by the end of third grade. Pairing volunteers with children to increase exposure to words and books is one component of the Born to Read initiative.
Mayor Redd and each of the AmeriCorp members engaged children in reading to kick off the Born to Read effort. The Mayor presented the team of VISTAs, serving with Center For Family Services, with a proclamation and thanked them for their service in the City of Camden as part of the nation’s first Mayor’s Day of Recognition for National Service.
“The City of Camden is proud to be a partner in the Born to Read collaborative effort to ensure our children are reading on the appropriate grade level," said Mayor Redd. "Today’s proclamation recognizes the work of these volunteers and the many other volunteers in service in our city. I thank the Corporation for National and Community Service and each volunteer for their dedication to civic engagement and their commitment to transforming neighborhoods and strengthening communities."
Chris Ward, AmeriCorp VISTA said, "My fellow VISTAs and I are honored and humbled by this recognition. We’re proud to be serving in a community with such heart as Camden.”
The Mayor’s Day of Recognition for National Service highlights the impact of AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and other national service programs in tackling local problems and managing volunteers for greater impact, and thanks national service members for their commitment.
In partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service, grantee organizations have placed more than 64 VISTAs, AmeriCorp, and SeniorCorp members in Camden City, NJ. Grantees include Center For Family Services’ 10 AmeriCorp VISTA members currently serving to build capacity to fight poverty in the city, Rutgers School of Social Work in Partnership with the Child Planning and Advocacy Council (CPAC) with AmeriCorp members serving to improve health and nutritional outcomes.
Center For Family Services is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support and empower individuals, families, and communities to achieve a better life through vision, hope, and strength. It is their vision that all people lead capable, responsible, fulfilled lives in strong families and healthy communities.
The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than four million Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and other programs, and leads the President's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit www.nationservice.gov.
Born to Read is a grade level reading initiative focused on raising literacy levels in Camden City. Center For Family Services and United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey in Camden are leading this collaborative effort to ensure more Camden children are reading at grade level by the end of third grade. The initiative includes ensuring kindergarten readiness by increasing early literacy skills. Pairing volunteers one-to-one to read with preschoolers is one component of the Born to Read initiative.