Volunteers boost literacy

While reading the book, "A Hen in a Fox's Den" on Wednesday, Socorro Vargas, 7, came across a word she didn't know: wig.

Fortunately, Rosemary Smith was there to help Socorro learn the new word.

"It means fake hair," Socorro explained later.

Smith is one of 16 volunteers from the Carson City Republican Women's Club who volunteer at Fritsch and Seeliger elementary schools, helping with work ranging from reading to math.

"It fills my time with something worthwhile," Smith said, who also volunteers at the sheriff's department. "It's a satisfaction."

The volunteers visited the schools one day each week during the school year and have been working with students three days a week during Fritsch Elementary School's summer reading session.

"There are always kids who need extra one-on-one time and teachers can't always do that with their time constraints," said Bridgette Dean, the volunteer community coordinator at Fritsch. "The volunteers fill that void."

The volunteers were presented with an award of appreciation during their Republican Women luncheon Tuesday.

Seeliger presented them with a similar token earlier.

"We love them," Dean said. "They're a tremendous addition to our school and teachers know they can count on them."

Alicia Eidel, spearheads the effort as chairwoman of the club's No Child Left Behind committee, based on federal legislation to increase competency and accountability in the schools.

"We love these kids," Eidel said. "We think we can make a difference in their lives. And we probably get more out of it than they do."

Reading specialist Shirley Larson argues the children reap the greater reward.

"Their confidence soars," she said. "They enjoy reading again because they experience success."

Fabiola Castillo, 9, sees the long-term benefits of reading with the volunteers.

"You get better," she explained. "And I want to pass all the grades."


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