The South Sound Reading Foundation & Me

One of the goals I have made for myself (in addition to finding a job/reliable source of income) is to begin volunteering again.  I volunteered quite a bit in high school with the local hospital and extended care facility, then in college I volunteered at a local writing tutoring center, before being hired on as a paid tutor. I have been wanting to start volunteering again for some time because not only will it get me out of the house and help me network to find a job, but it will make a difference in the community.  Another reason I am still unemployed is that refuse to consider a job that doesn’t make a difference with something, some aspect of the community or cause that I am passionate about.  All summer I kept saying, “Oh, I will find somewhere to volunteer next week…” and now it is mid-August and I haven’t started anywhere yet.

So I finally sat down yesterday to look for a cause or non-profit or foundation that I felt strongly about.  First I made a list of some of the things I care about or like to do: environmental conservation, reading, writing, books, women’s rights, children’s rights, and politics (I am a moderate, socially liberal but fiscally conservative).  Earlier this summer I contemplated working at a Summer Reading program at my elementary school, but vacations derailed that idea. I love kids, and I love reading, and if there was a way to combine those two, I was sold.  I was searching the Internet for ideas ( was decently helpful) when I remembered something.  As a high school student I taught piano lessons to kids in my area, and one of the students (my favorite, I admit) whom I taught for several years, had a mother who was the director of the South Sound Reading Foundation.  This sounded like it had promise. So I looked up the foundation (she is no longer the director) and immediately filled out an application to volunteer.

The South Sound Reading Foundation ( does amazing things. As a literacy advocacy foundation, its major purpose is to ensure that all children are read to for 20 minutes a day, every day, starting at birth.  The ultimate goal is to produce children who read at their correct grade level and thus are more successful in school and in life.  This sounds so simple, right? I looked over some of their literature and was pretty surprised to learn how many students do not read at their current grade level.  To fight this, they organize book drives for children and families who can’t afford them and prepare hospital baby book bags to send home with new moms and have a book van and are extremely active in the community.

My parents read to me from birth and I have always been a voracious reader.  I remember reading Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park outloud to my mom in the car waiting for my piano lesson…in the second grade (I specifically remember this because I remember saying “oh shoot oh shoot” instead of “oh shit oh shit” because the s-word was a bad word and I thought my mom would get mad if I said it outloud). I devoured books. Literally. Anything and everything I could get my hands on, I read. Except Gary Paulsen’s books. I don’t know why, I just thought they were boring. Anyway, I read every boody – literally – in my elementary school and middle school library.  I took all honor’s classes in high school. I went to college and majored in English and work as a writing tutur. And my parents read me two stories every night before I went to sleep.  So are those things connected? It’s the nature versus nurture argument I suppose…both of my parents were valedictorians with multiple graduate degrees who enjoy hiking and classical music. But, reading was highly encouraged…even to this day, many of my gifts for Christmas and birthdays include or consist of books. A boyfriend once witnessed me opening book after book on my 22nd birthday and remarked to me under his breath, “I would have been pissed if all I had gotten for my birthday was books!”  (He was an engineer. So not surprising.) But even today our house is full of books of all kinds: children’s books, literature, science books, reference books, cookbooks, paperbacks, hardcover, etc.  My father and sister and I all enjoy reading and each of us has stacks of books around our bedrooms.

So do I think that my parent’s reading to me had any effect on my life? Absolutely. Do I think that the South Sound Reading Foundation’s efforts are making a difference on those kids out there with parents who don’t have graduate degrees or fully understand the impact of reading to their children? Absolutely. I filled out an online application to volunteer and am calling their office this afternoon to find out when I can start volunteering.

 Hopefully I can start ASAP (it’s not like I have else to do…sigh) and start making a difference.


~ by Bitterroot Buttercup on August 18, 2009.

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