Helen Souza, 83, has been working as an RSVP volunteer for 11 years. She has been tutoring at-risk students who are marginal readers in one-on-one and small group tutoring sessions for five plus at Sts. Peter and Paul School in Fall River, grades K through 3. The faculty, children and their parents love her there. She has helped to recruit and train several RSVP volunteers to be reading tutors, has improved the reading scores of those at-risk students, has helped to strengthen RSVP’s Literacy Programs and is an asset to all.
According to Kathy Burt, principal of the school, Souza serves as a role model to many young people and older people with disabilities. She said, “Helen greets the children as they arrive at school with a bug hug and a warm smile. The children appreciate Souza’s enthusiasm for the importance of reading and have benefited greatly from her one-on-one attention that she gives. She has become a vital part of the learning process at Sts. Peter and Paul.”
She recently completed a one-year assignment as an Americorps Vista volunteer during a Summer Reads Program. She completed the remainder of the year as a literacy coordinator for the RSVP Program. Because of failing eyesight that limits her ability to drive, she was unable to continue as an Americorps Vista volunteer. However, she continued to volunteer her services six hours a day, five days a week at Sts. Peter and Paul School.
According to Bill Leary, RSVP Program Director at Citizens for Citizens, “Helen has enthusiastically gone out to the public and has spoken to various groups in Greater Fall River about the benefits of volunteering in the community. Her goal is to continue speaking to civic organizations in the years to come. Helen Souza exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism in her manner and her performance. Not only is she delightful as a person, she is an effective classroom tutor who bridges the intergenerational divide.” She has helped to educate and build self-confidence in youth.