United Way of NELA seeks volunteers for ‘Read.Learn.Succeed.’ Program

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MONROE, LA. (KTVE/KARD)– For the past eight years, volunteers have been paired up with students from schools across our area to help them improve their reading skills.

“If you read, you’ll get smarter,” Kameron, a student said.

Kameron and Rebecca Mixon are pen friends through United Way of NELA’s ‘Read.Learn.Succeed.’ Program. It’s a mentorship program for second and third grade students.

“And so they’re still learning to read, they are still excited about reading and it’s fun to watch them pick out their own books,” Mixon said.

The goal is to give the students an extra person to cheer them on and encourage them as they learn to read throughout the year.

“In a traditional year, without COVID-19, the volunteers would be able to come and read with children once a week with hopes that we improve their overall reading skills,” Pheandra Blake, Robinson Elementary School Principal, said.

Principal Blake said when the coronavirus hit, they had to get creative. Instead of being face-to-face, they wrote letters and sent books to their pals.

“And that was such an overwhelming surprise to get that letter from Kameron in the mail and watch throughout the year, as I got a few letters from him, watch his skills develop throughout the year from that first letter to the end and know that he was making progress,” Mixon said.

At the end of the year, the volunteers finally got to meet their reading pals in a parade.

“Looking down this whole line of children, I somehow, I can’t explain it, but even before I saw his face light up, I just knew that was my child,” Mixon said. “When I saw his face light up, it was just this weird, odd, amazing culmination of all of these letters that we had written and it was fantastic.”

Kameron said he loves all of the books Ms. Rebecca has sent him.

“Miss Rebecca, She’s a good person because she gives me books so I can be smarter while I read,” Kameron said.

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