If you walk into the Everybody Wins! Iowa program at Hillside Elementary School, you will hear boisterous and engaged students as well many pairs reading a variety of books. You will also see a bowtie. The bowtie belongs to our mentor of the month Joseph Jones.
Joseph and his mentee Erick have been reading together for 4 years. Joseph has been reading with EWI for 5 years in total. Before that he was a mentor with Everybody Wins! DC. He attended the United States Military Academy Preparatory School, Loyola University New Orleans and Drake University.
After graduating, “I worked as the Executive Director of The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement. Prior to this I was the Senior Vice Preside for Government Relations and Public Policy at the Greater Des Moines Partnership; and before that Legislative Assistant to US Senator Tom Harkin” he says.
Jones says that he, “really enjoys the days we find a book that is light and funny as we read back and forth to each other. As my buddy has gotten older we find ourselves reading more to one another.”
EWI Volunteer Manager Anna Sunstrom was Joseph’s site-coordinator for a year and made the observation that, “Joseph relates well to Erick because they are both minorities. He brings that experience to the mentoring relationship. The friendship and bond that they have forged over the last 4 years will hopefully help Erick with his confidence in Middle School/ High School and beyond.”
She also notes that, “Joseph has made an impact on Erick by being there for him. When Erick first started the program he was reserved and didn’t talk much. Because of Joseph’s influence he has become more outgoing. Erick has shown great growth in self-confidence and reading ability in his time that he has been reading with Jones.”
Amber Juffer, who is his current site-coordinator said, “Joseph’s biggest contribution is his consistency. This has created a successful mentoring relationship over four years, which research has shown, impacts students in a multitude of ways. Joseph is exactly the kind of volunteer our organization needs.”
Jones says that he chose to be a mentor because, “I love to give back to our community and to invest the time to read with a young person. I was not a very strong reader as a child, but once I found passion for the things I liked, I liked reading more. So it is fun to go on this journey with my reading buddy and to let him know that reading can be fun (eventually).”
Jones encourages you to join EWI, “If you like to read and enjoy the opportunity to connect with young people, this is the perfect program. It is so important that kids know they are supported by their entire community and not just their families and teachers. We all have a vested interest in their success.”
Everybody Wins! Iowa thanks Joseph for his support and advocacy for the organization over the years.