Sykes says RSVP Reading Buddies program expanding to Fertile-Beltrami, other school districts interested, too.

    The RSVP Reading Buddies program returned to classrooms at Washington School this week. RSVP Coordinator Tammy Sykes, who launched the program, said that the teachers are excited not only because of the additional literacy attention their students receive, but because they were presented with a supply of new scholastic books as part of the program's return to the school.

    RSVP purchased dozens of new books using United Way of Crookston funding.

    RSVP's Reading Buddies Program began as a pilot program in the spring of 2012, in an effort to increase the literacy skills of children who need an extra boost. Volunteers spend one-on-one time with children who may need more reading time and practice. They typically spend an hour per week in a classroom, listening to a child read aloud, while encouraging the use of reading cues.  

    Sykes said the Reading Buddies program fits into the educational success performance measure under the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that helps more than five million Americans improve the lives of their fellow citizens through service.

    Sykes envisions the program growing throughout the entire region, with the Fertile-Beltrami School as the second official site. “Our volunteers have the hearts to give children the special encouragement they need… to believe that they are worthy and capable," she said.

     Volunteers in Ada, Stephen, Climax-Shelly and Middle River have also expressed interest in bringing Reading Buddies to their schools, Sykes added.

    RSVP also utilized United Way funds to purchase volunteer supply bags for use in classrooms; bags were filled with items such as hand sanitizer, Kleenex, a first aid kit, Post-It notes, wet wipes and encouragement stickers to hand out to students.

    RSVP, sponsored by the University of Minnesota Crookston, is the largest volunteer network for Americans, aged 55 and older.  Serving and strengthening families and communities, RSVP of the Red River Valley offers a wide variety of volunteer opportunities, addressing critical community needs. To volunteer as a Reading Buddy, contact RSVP at 281-8289.