By guest blogger, Allison Loft, Volunteer Engagement Manager, United Way of Pierce County
Fall is here in all its glory, but don’t forget to savor the memorable moments of summer. Summer highlights at United Way of Pierce County included supporting the Hunger Free Pierce County Collaboration meal sites with books, activities and snack packs. For the past five years United Way has helped prevent ‘the summer slide’, when students can lose up to two months of learning over the summer. READ United: Summer is designed to keep children engaged and excited about reading and learning over the summer months.
United Way staff and volunteers visit free summer meal sites in high-need, low-access areas to read with kids and give away books for the children to keep and read at home anytime. The impact made over the 2019 summer at meal sites through Read United: Summer. With the help of six corporate partners, community volunteers and two interns, Read United: Summer 2019 engaged:
- 236 children participated at four sites
- 1,036 new books were distributed
- 90% of children reported that the program helped them focus on reading
- More than 1/3 of the children who participated, reported that they did not have new books at home before this program.
2019 Summer Highlight
This year, Brown & Brown participated in Read United: Summer by sending volunteers every week to Salishan, where over 30 children participated every day. One Tuesday, Leslie from Brown & Brown volunteered and was inspired by one young man’s love of reading. 'Sam', a 14 year old who participated in the summer activities, told Leslie about how much he enjoyed reading a certain book and was excited to have his own copy. He and Leslie visited about different books they enjoyed and Sam made a lasting impression on Leslie.
The next day she reached out to United Way to see if she could give him a whole set of the books that he enjoyed,“…I have had a few opportunities in my life to see someone so happy and excited to own a book and it has made a big impression on me every time. Thank you so much for sharing your enthusiasm. It’s so wonderful to see the excitement and love of books in someone who obviously loves to read so much, ” said Leslie.
Sam was amazed when he received the gift from Leslie a few weeks later with a note, “I thank you for the books that you gave to me. I was surprised that someone took the thought and care to gift me with something so incredible. It was refreshing to know that there are good people out there in the world. The book set is awesome and the start for my own library. My mom has a dream of getting a house of our own and creating a library in it.”
What a difference one person can make! Visit uwpc.org to find out how you can join us for volunteer opportunities throughout the year.