If you’ve ever been at the library or at our program at Walnut Street School and heard very enthusiastic voices you’ve probably witnessed our mentor of the month, Aaron Gernes in action with his various students. Aaron has been a mentor for three years at Walnut Street School both during the school year and summer. He started reading with the organization after going to an event at the Red Cross where EWI staff was present. He says, “I got to talk to some of the staff and was immediately attracted to the program.”
Gernes attended Drake for undergrad and works for the Des Moines Public Library in marketing and communication.
His site-coordinator his first year was our Volunteer Manager, Anna Sunstrom. She says that “I have seen Aaron work with several students over the years and his connection with his mentee’s are instant each time. He show’s a genuine interest in his students and reads whatever he is reading with enthusiasm and creative voices.”
When he first started mentoring with EWI in 2016 he was paired with a young girl. He said as they got to know each other, “she shared both her excitement and fears about attending middle school. She told me on our last reading session “I wish we could read together next year, but it’s time for me to get older.” It was a sweet comment, and I like to think our talks helped her get ready for middle school.”
When asked why he first started to mentor with Everybody Wins! Iowa he said, “it’s simple and fun, and I feel like I’m making a difference. Seeing all the kids get so excited when we walk through the doors is a great feeling.”
His advice to future mentors is, “let your kids choose the books! Even if you don’t finish a book, go ahead and let them select something else (or, at the least, tell them to give you three options and you’ll pick). Sometimes, a kid finds a book boring even if they didn’t think it would be. Also, let loose with fun and crazy voices for the characters. Kids love it.”
Everybody Wins! Iowa thanks Aaron for your support and continued dedication to mentoring.