Practice Makes Perfect: The Woods at Canco Residents Help Students Learn to Read
Remember the adage “sharing is caring?” The dedication to community and the common good invoked by that phrase has been at the heart of Holiday Retirement’s mission since it was founded nearly 50 years ago. That’s why a large portion of our activities and events schedule is rooted in volunteering.
Whether providing care for animals, building care boxes for our troops or walking for a cause, our residents have unlimited opportunities to pursue their passions and bring purpose to their lives. For a group of residents at Holiday Retirement’s The Woods at Canco, that passion is helping children learn to read.
After connecting with a local chapter of United Way Worldwide, residents from The Woods of Canco were invited to be readers at Canal School in Westbrook, Maine, for Reading Across America. The nationwide event, held on Dr. Seuss’s birthday, encourages schools, families and communities to come together and celebrate reading. At the event, our residents partnered up with the elementary school students, listened to them read aloud and helped them practice their literacy skills.
The special event was so successful that the Canal School set up a regular reading group with The Woods at Canco. Twice a month for the rest of the school year, our residents visited the school, helping the students read their favorite books and even write original pieces.
For many of our residents who were previously teachers, guidance counselors and Sunday-school leaders, volunteering at the school rekindles their passion for working with children.
“At my heart, I’m a mom and a teacher. It’s great to be back in touch with kids, especially since our grandchildren are so far away. The kids appreciate it so much, and that feels good. And literacy is my field, it’s important to me,” Merry Hall said.
Her husband, Burl, added, “I love kids. I worked with a lot of them as a counselor. I like to see kids growing up and learning from people like us to make a better world. Kids are fabulous. I just want to see a new world come through them.”
Another resident, Jackie Hayes, mentioned, “I used to work with children that age, and it’s fun to be back with them. I enjoy them a lot. I like encouraging what they can do and giving them cues if they need help.”
For other residents, time in the community brings a renewed sense of purpose. Barbara Townsend stated, “I like to see the kids’ smiles; it’s so rewarding. To know you’re doing good, not just existing.”
Beyond the warm-fuzzies our residents have gained from them, the regular visits have helped improve confidence and reading proficiency in the students. “I had one student who came to this country eight months ago and didn’t know any English. Now, he’s one of the top readers in his class and is so proud to be able to read to me,” exclaimed Jean Loudon.
The students and our residents can hardly wait until the coming school year, when The Woods at Canco will visit every other week to build deeper connections and make even greater proficiency improvements. In addition to the reading group, next year’s partnership will include two new segments: a pen pal program to help students in the special education program build personal relationships and practice writing, and a collaboration for a civil rights biography project so students can hear directly from our residents about what living in a time of segregation was really like.
Kudos to The Woods at Canco community for living out our mission and striving for a better world. We can’t wait to see the outcomes from this continued partnership!
Are you interested in reviving your sense of purpose? Contact us to see how a Holiday community can support your passions and help you give back to those in need.