Booking Lunch

Posted by Rachel Vogel-Quinn on Apr 21, 2017 1:45:59 PM

Mike and Lynn.jpg

When Mike and Lynn Sucik arrive at South Union Elementary on Mondays, they have learned to expect a bit of a mess over lunch. The kids forget their napkins. They spill milk or sauce on the table—sometimes even a little on the books. But the mess is worth it. Mike and Lynnand the kidscouldn’t be happier to be there.

The married couple volunteer with the Power Read program, a partnership between United Way of Central Iowa and Everybody Wins! Iowa. They each read to a first-grader for a half-hour, followed by a third-grader for another half-hour, though most volunteers only read for one session.

“It’s not a huge commitment to spend a little time reading to kids,” says Mike.

Power Read

Volunteer to be a Reading Mentor

Each week, mentors meet their students at school to spend time talking and reading together. The program often takes place during the lunch period at school, but some Power Read sites offer programs before school, after school or in the evening.

The sessions are held each week at the same time and on the same day and usually last between 30-60 minutes.

Learn More About POWER READ

Mike and Lynn, both lifelong volunteers who recently retired, heard about the Power Read program last summer and were intrigued by the idea.They quickly bonded with their reading partners, talking to them about their weekends and classes and favorite books while the kids eat lunch. Lynn has seen her first- and third-grade students go from shy strangers to eager readers, excited to hear the story and point out pictures each week.  

Mike is happy to help expand the kids’ vocabulary and literacy skills, a supplement to the reading lessons they are getting in the classroom. “It’s remarkable how many fewer words kids from less affluent homes are exposed to in their daily lives,” says Mike, citing the shocking statistic that low-income kids hear 30 million fewer words by age 3 than their middle-class peers.

The Power Read program, currently at more than 30 schools and sites in central Iowa, focuses on serving struggling readers. Many face barriers to reading and may come from homes where English is not the primary language spoken. Power Read is an opportunity for these students to practice reading and develop literacy skills with a caring adult outside the classroom.

“My first-grader tells me that it’s her favorite part of the week,” Lynn says. “It’s my favorite part. too.”

For Mike, Power Read has given him the opportunity to relive the time he spent reading to his own children when they were little, while also making an impact on another generation.

“I feel like I’ve been blessed in my life,” he says. “It’s great to be able to share that with other people. We have a lot more in common than we have different. When we share positive experiences, we learn from others."

"The best gift you can give is your time.”