Nacesseca “Nessy” Cherazard has carried a love for writing and reading since she was in elementary school. She remembers how important words were to her, and through Read Aloud Delaware, she hopes to help young kids find their own love of reading.
As a three-year volunteer reader at her school’s connected daycare center, Nessy spends her afternoons mentoring kids one-on-one. She’s learned the responsibility and patience needed to grow literacy skills in the lives of kids. Looking back, no matter how rowdy the kids were, remembering their faces before she would read to them continues to be her favorite memory.
Describe your volunteer role Read Aloud Delaware.
About a year ago, I was searching for volunteer work and found a volunteerism website that listed different service opportunities around Delaware. That’s where I found Read Aloud Delaware. I’ve always been a very big believer in growing reading and literacy skills, so I just thought that it was the right time to merge it with volunteering. I was about 16 when I was placed at the daycare that’s connected to my school, the PACCT Center. It’s been great — I started reading on Fridays.
I applied before the COVID-19 pandemic. I was asked if I would consider picking up more days of reading, and I started reading three days a week because I didn’t want the kids to really miss out on reading during so much changing in schools. I know that not every kid is there every day.
When I was younger, probably in middle school and elementary school, I was always writing stories, poems and writing in my journal. I just loved writing song lyrics too and making up stories in my head. I still, and have always said, I want to be an author. I definitely think that I do want to write a book, like a New York [Times] Best Seller one day.
How has your volunteerism at the PACCT Daycare Center affected your life?
It’s affected my life a lot. I’m a big believer in volunteer work, but before this program, I just volunteered here and there — never anything permanent. But then I found something that had a huge impact on other people, and I feel like with kids, it’s always great to build literacy as early as possible. Having a place where I can volunteer to connect with kids has been so special. Sometimes I stay 30 minutes later just to play with them and help clean up the daycare. I love seeing joy on their faces and seeing how happy they get. It really changed my life. Reading to them is a big responsibility, and it’s become a part of me.
Do you have a favorite memory from improving literacy in the lives of kids?
I love when I’m reading to the kids, and they just first come to the table to begin. They all come in at once, and I love just seeing them all there before me. I’m supposed to just read to one kid at a time, but because they’re really young, they don’t really understand that all of the time and just smile and ask me if it’s their turn. It’s so adorable. I have so many cute memories.
What inspires you to volunteer?
What keeps me inspired to volunteer is that I’ve always known what I’ve wanted to do since the 5th grade. I’ve always wanted to make an impact in somebody’s life. With Read Aloud, I’m inspired because the kids are so young, too. What keeps me coming back is knowing that I might be somebody they remember like four or five years from now. I just hope that I can help them with their reading and literacy skills and to just overall enjoy reading.
What have you learned through your experience as a volunteer?
The kids are all over the place sometimes, so they’ve definitely taught me patience, kindness and a lot about responsibility.
Why is it important for others to give back, especially young people and students?
It’s important for people to give back because first of all, why not? I think that a lot of people aren’t always as fortunate as others, and when I see people struggling, I believe that it’s important for all of us to actually put a smile on their faces. Volunteering teaches you a lot of lessons and skills about humanity and soft skills about what people really need. You just become a better individual as a whole. It opens the door to so many things, and it’s very enjoyable.
Are there any partnerships, programs or events that you are excited about?
Nothing out of the ordinary, really. But I honestly, just look forward to continuing to read with the kids, even without events or anything coming up. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with Susan. She’s been the program supervisor and now is the site supervisor. She’s been really helpful in all of this.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Nacesseca? Find local volunteer opportunities.