(July 10 2017) Catherine Read talks about the non-profit GrandInvolve with staff and a volunteer from Crestwood Elementary School in Springfield, VA. This program brings retired seniors into the classrooms of Title I schools in Fairfax County, VA. GrandInvolve recently received the 2017 Governor’s Community Organization Award for its work fighting ageism and furthering understanding of cultures.
In the first segment, Guidance Counselor Sara Crummett shares the experience of being the first school to launch this volunteering program at Crestwood Elementary School, located in central Springfield, VA. She coordinates and matches the volunteers with the classroom teachers to find a good “fit” that meets the expectations of both. Crestwood will be starting their fourth year of this program in the Fall of 2017 and continue to look for volunteers for their classrooms, which have a high population of students who qualify for free and reduced lunches and are also from homes where a language other than English is spoken.
Eve Hall, a teacher at Crestwood, explains how she initially started with GrandInvolve as a third grade teacher and how she established working relationships with the three volunteers assigned to her. She is now a Head Start teacher and all of her volunteers followed her into this preschool program. Eve gives examples of the ways in which the volunteers assist her with regular daily activities and also their willingness to help with special events like pumpkin carving and evening events like book fairs. One of her volunteers even started a knitting club at the school which has been a great success.
Suba Satay, a retired U.S. Air Force officer, shares his experience being a classroom volunteer in first and second grade at Crestwood. He was matched with a teacher where he was able to specify reading and writing as an area he wanted to focus on with the children. Going into the 2017-18 school year, he’s adding a second volunteer day so he can do the same type of mentoring for third and fourth graders. Mr. Suba, as the children know him, has found this volunteering to be one of the most rewarding things he has ever done. He has also developed a great respect for all that classrooms teachers are asked to do.
In the final segment, Cindy Nothom, a GrandInvolve Action Team Volunteer at Parklawn Elementary School, shares the efforts the organization is making to recruit more volunteers for the upcoming school year. Cindy was one of the original members of GrandInvolve team which was founded by Dorothy Keenan in 2014 to place needed volunteers into Title I schools. At Parklawn last year there were more classroom teachers requesting volunteers than they had volunteers to place. This year they are reaching out to a number of organizations such as Venture into Volunteering and Volunteer Fairfax to look for new volunteers. Additionally, they have more than 15 GrandInvolve speakers who are available to speak at meetings for service clubs like Rotary, Kiwanis, Garden Clubs and Women’s Clubs to explain the volunteer opportunities. You can find additional information about GrandInvolve at www.GrandInvolve.org and on their Facebook page.