The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of the Prince William Area is proud to announce the beginning of its fourth year of tutoring students who are experiencing challenges in reading!
RSVP Prince William began in 1998 when the Voluntary Action Center of the Prince William Area, Inc. was awarded a grant from the Corporation for National Service to support the America Reads Challenge. The program’s service area of Prince William County, The City of Manassas, and Manassas Park, shares the same challenge as the rest of the country. Over 40% of children in grades K-3 are reading below grade level. The challenge to all Americans is to have every child reading on grade level by the end of the third grade year.
Boasting almost 200 volunteers, the phenomenal “Grandpals” tutored more than 800 students in 40+ schools this past year. Putting in 5,800 hours of service, these wonderful volunteers not only helped increase the reading skills of each child, they also touched their hearts. The wonderful bond that develops between the student and their tutor is heartwarming. Many of the tutors see their students as surrogate grandchildren and vice versa. With so many families spread across the country, it is great to see dedicated volunteers and these loving children reaching across the generations and learning from each other.
There are many factors that contribute to a child reading below grade level. The only essential factor to increasing their reading ability is one-on-one time. When a RSVP volunteer shows up at the classroom door, their student’s face is beaming. That child knows that there is a special adult in their world who takes the time to care about them, encourages them, and support them. What a priceless gift to give a child. But it does not stop there. The RSVP volunteers tell fabulous stories about how fantastic they feel when helping their students. The excitement of learning and the satisfaction of hard work are felt by both the volunteers and their students. What a great win-win opportunity!
Awards and accolades for the program are numerous. RSVP Prince William was the recipient of the Shelley Krasnow Community Service Award this past February. This award is given once a year by the Prince William County-Greater Manassas Chamber of Commerce and is the highest honor a local community service organization can receive. The Board of County Supervisors presented a Certificate of Appreciation in recognition of outstanding volunteer service to the RSVP volunteers in May.
School boards, principals, teachers, parents, area newspapers and business leaders praise these volunteers, both in writing and in person, for their selfless efforts. However, the greatest praise can be summed up in a short story. At the beginning of the school year, a new student was reluctant to go for his tutoring session with this man he had met only once. A boy who worked with this gentleman last year walked over and told the new student, “It’s ok. He’s cool.”
The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of the Prince William Area is reaching its goal – one volunteer and one student at a time.