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The Power of Volunteerism

Volunteerism, Reading Tutor. Elderly man reading with child.

Volunteering has the power to boost longevity. And it’s good for the community.

No matter your age, volunteering has a positive impact. A longitudinal study of aging shows that individuals who volunteered more frequently live longer. Giving back can improve your physical and mental health and contributes to an extended life expectancy

Highlighting the power of giving back and selflessness, eight Experience Corps Bay Area (ECBA) volunteers received the President’s Volunteer Service Award (PVSA) for their generous work in 2022. Among the recipients is Dorie Black, a Sequoia Living resident who has been part of the program for nearly a decade. 

“We have amazing volunteers who have been so generous with their time,” said Sue Dichter, VP of Community Service at Sequoia Living. “It’s an honor to receive national recognition for the difference these volunteers are making in the lives of children in their communities.”

The PVSA program recognizes the nation’s most outstanding volunteers for contributing significant amounts of time to the organizations they support. Each ECBA volunteer received a medallion, pin, and a personal thank-you letter from President Joe Biden. 

These award recipients embody the essence of community impact, showcasing that no matter your age, small actions can lead to profound impact.

Fostering Brighter Futures

Children who once struggled with reading skills are making great progress through the Sequoia Living and AARP partnership – ECBA. 

ECBA matches volunteer tutors aged 50 and older with children in grades K-3 who need extra help in reading. The program launched in 2007 in a single school. Today, ECBA serves 15 schools and is transforming the lives of thousands of students throughout Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Sonoma counties.

“We are fortunate to have exceptional tutors at ECBA,” said Sandi Strang, Director of Experience Corps Bay Area. During the 2022-2023 school year, “Tutors offered thousands of reading sessions to students below grade level at the beginning of the year and left a lasting impact.” 

The intergenerational volunteer-based tutoring program has witnessed incredible success over the last academic year. The growth has been exponential, with the number of tutoring sessions doubling from 5,000 to 10,662 between the academic years 2021-2022 and 2022-2023. The effort is only possible with the dedication and time of more than 165 volunteer tutors. ECBA is actively recruiting tutors – sign up to become a volunteer

Their dedication doesn’t stop there. As the new school year unfolds, the mission remains to continue diligently serving schools and children. The goal is to maintain supporting the 15 schools while increasing the number of sessions. Together they are committed to fostering a brighter future for children.  

Celebrating Commitment to Young Readers

The phrase ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ resonates with Javier Zamora, author of “Solito,” a memoir that recounts his solo migration from El Salvador to the United States at nine years old. As an English Learner Student (ESL) and author, literacy has played a profound role in his life.

At the annual ECBA volunteers’ luncheon, Zamora shared his incredible journey with the tutors during a Q&A moderated by his former teacher at Bahia Vista Elementary School in San Rafael, CA, Ms. Mackay. The school is now part of Experience Corps Bay Area’s roster, and Ms. MacKay has referred students to the program.

The event celebrated program volunteers’ commitment and dedication to literacy and young readers throughout the Bay Area. 

While the future of these young readers is unknown, one of them might just be the next New York Times Best Selling author. Or, a former Harvard fellow like Zamora. 

Ready to make a difference? Join The Experience Corps Bay Area program mission to foster literacy in children.

Transform Lives Through Reading

Senior Services for Northern California