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  • Writer's pictureGrace Episcopal Church

Reading Pals: An Investment in the Future

By Deacon Mary Delancey

Back in July Grace held a children’s book drive for the Reading Pals program. Gracers were generous with their donations. Along with the request for books, there was a call for volunteers. And I answered that call. Why read to kindergarteners? It was in part because I miss the time I was with the Little Lambs in our Grace VPK some years ago. More importantly, it was because I understand that learning to become a reader – someone who enjoys experiencing the world through the written word – has a significant effect on a child’s future.

The implications of not learning to read proficiently are profound, including increased risk for school dropout, anxiety, depression, and low self-concept. These are all factors that make children vulnerable to many adverse situations, not the least of which is to be victimized by predators. When I talk about protecting children from human trafficking or other forms of abuse, people tell me they don’t know what they can do to protect children. Here’s something you can do. It may not be dramatic or glamorous, but it a real way that everyone can help give children the skills they need to flourish.

And it is great fun. Do you miss your grandkids or great grandkids? Spending an hour twice a week can give you that charge of little kid energy you’re missing. It is a delightful way to spend the time and you can know that you are making an investment in the future.

Below is an invitation from ReadingPals. If you want to hear more about the experience, I’ll be happy to talk with you.

Do you love to read? Share that joy with a kindergartener in one of 18 schools served by

the United Way of Marion County’s ReadingPals program. During the school day, ReadingPal

volunteers read to a kindergartener who has been identified as needing additional support of

their basic literacy skills. In this one-on-one scenario you develop a strong relationship with

the student while you are reading a book. Asking some questions you are instilling the joy of reading.

As a sample of the program, please view this information on our website (, under

the impact category click on ReadingPals. Join us on Thursday, November 16th at a workshop to be held at 9 a.m. in the Bonnie Heath Community Room at United Way of Marion County. Registration is required to ensure materials are available. Your investment of time will make ALL the difference in the life of a child.

Call United Way of Marion County at 352-732-9696 x 212 or email

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