One hour a week for five years. Is that enough to make a difference in a child’s life? For Josephine Carlos and her young mentee, Estelle, the answer is a resounding yes.
Josephine, a TD Read With Me volunteer, started work Estelle in July of 2010. Throughout the program, Estelle’s English literacy skills improved tremendously. Estelle recently ‘graduated’ from TD Read With Me following completion of Grade 6. She and Josephine held their last session on June 22, 2015, at which time they were the longest-collaborating pair in the program.
We met with Josephine, Estelle, and Maria (Estelle’s mother) to get their feedback on the program, and to honour Josephine’s years of amazing work as a program volunteer.
I really enjoyed working with Josephine. It was a lot of fun, and my English really improved. We read books together and talked about them. We played games together and discussed different things. Josephine is very kind and very clever. I love talking to her because I feel she actually understands what I’m talking about.
Estelle’s come such a long way. When we first met, she couldn’t speak English that well and was very shy. She’s so confident now. I had a great time. We clicked really well, to the point that I now feel she’s like my little sister. It’s a really good program . . . I wish I had something like this when I was younger!
Josephine has helped Estelle get better at reading and develop a strong vocabulary—Estelle’s now reading at grade level. My husband and I didn’t go to school in Canada, so Josephine taught Estelle about Canadian culture. If I didn’t know the meaning of things from school, Josephine helped me—as a parent—to understand them. She’s a really nice person. She’s helpful, generous, smart, and on-time. We think it’s impressive that she volunteers her time to help us.
Josephine and Estelle had fun together, playing games, and she also helped Estelle develop her writing skills. Estelle came to Canada (from South Korea) when she was six years old, and she could hardly speak English. Now she’s in a gifted program at school, and I think that’s due to Josephine’s help through this program. I’m thankful for Josephine, the Library system, and its programs.
Josephine and Estelle are only one such pair of volunteers and students. Their story illustrates how big an impact our volunteers have in children’s lives. The skills that Josephine helped develop will stay with Estelle for the rest of her life, and have laid the groundwork for future success.