newsboy-readingThis 101 Things in 1,001 Days goal was originally to volunteer with the Big Sister program, but the gist of the goal was just to volunteer. I ended up choosing S.M.A.R.T. — Start Making a Reader Today — based here in Portland. SMART partners with Oregon schools to help kids “discover the joy of reading.” It’s really a win-win program because it only takes an hour a week (and there are so many elementary school locations that it’s quite convenient). You read one-on-one for 30 minutes with two different kids. Depending on the age, or their comfort level, you might end up doing all the reading at first, but it’s so much fun to watch their progress over time.

My two little boys were 1st graders and they had the funniest little personalities. I think I might have been given a “problem child” because the notes in his reading file said he wasn’t cooperative and didn’t enjoy reading, but we got along just fine and he did an outstanding job. My favorite memory was when he interrupted me when I was reading and asked loudly, “Why are there so many old people here?” I quietly told him that there are many different ages and then he said “Why do they look soooo old?” and I said “Shhhhh… it’s not nice to say that about people.” To which he replied, “Well why do you have such smooth skin?” :) Priceless!

I joined SMART after I came back from Costa Rica in March, so I only caught the last 3 months of the program, but it was a really great program and I’ll definitely be volunteering next school year too. If you live in Oregon, check out their volunteer page for October 2009. (photo: foreverphoto)