A Day in the Life of a Community Placement Volunteer: Literacy Lab

By: Lauren Niles, Literacy Lab Committee Chair
Every Wednesday, women from the Literacy Lab Committee meet at the DC General Shelter. When they arrive at the shelter, which used to be a city-run hospital, the residents are eating dinner. As they gather the supplies and set up the room, everything is relatively quiet and calm. But that changes in the blink of an eye, when dinner wraps up and the halls and the room used for the Ready-to-Read program fill with sounds of excited squeals, sneakers squeaking, and laughter;  both the children and the volunteers look forward to a high-energy night of sharing, reading, and playing together.
The goal of the Literacy Lab Ready-to-Read program is to provide low-income children experiencing homelessness with individualized reading instruction to improve their literacy skills, leading to greater success in school and increased opportunities in life. Each week, volunteers in the Literacy Lab placement spend one-on-one time with children ages three through eight. While the focus of the placement is on literacy, more than anything, the time spent with these children having shared positive interactions is the most valuable part of the program. The majority of the women in the Literacy Lab placement come back year after year, and have long-standing relationships with many of the children in the shelter. The Literacy Lab Committee looks forward to continuing this partnership and program for many years to come, and truly believes that this program is making an impact on our community.