Power Reading Promo Month

Everybody Wins! Iowa will be celebrating our 7th annual Power Reading Month beginning on October 16 until November 16, 2017. Throughout the month, we will be celebrating at each of the 72 individual programs in Central Iowa (Ankeny, Des Moines, Indianola, Norwalk, Pella, Perry, and West Des Moines). During this time, we will be providing new books to our students, highlighting the importance of our Power Reading programs, promoting the power of literacy and mentoring, and thanking school sponsors and volunteers for their outstanding work throughout the past year.

Last program year, we served more than 744 students in 36 Des Moines area schools and community organizations. 85 % of EWI students improved or maintained their literacy skills; our reading pairs read over 13,877 books and 482,209 pages, and volunteer reading mentors contributed over 9,608 hours to our cause.

Currently, we are serving almost 500 Central Iowa students, but we are looking to grow that number even further, as we have the capacity to serve over 800 students this school year. Our programs have expanded to include before-school, after-school, lunch-time, and summer programs, so we have times available to fit nearly anyone’s busy schedule.

Pictured: An EWI student with his mentor at Findley Elementary

Here are the programs where we currently have the highest need:

King Elementary
1849 Forest Avenue, Des Moines
Friday 11:15-11:45 (2nd grade)
Friday 11:35-12:05 (1st grade)

River Woods Elementary
2929 SE 22nd Street, Des Moines
Wednesday 11:50-12:25 (1st grade)
Thursday 11:35-12:10 (3rd grade)

Findley Elementary
3000 Cambridge Street, Des Moines
Tuesday 8:00-8:35 (3rd-5th grade)

Lovejoy Elementary
801 E Kenyon Avenue, Des Moines
Thursday 7:45-8:20 (1st-5th grade)

If you’re not a reading mentor with us and would like to be, apply today at http://bit.ly/2hTvkAz or contact Anna, Volunteer Outreach Manager, at volunteer@everybodywinsiowa.org or by calling 515-242-8462.

If you’re interested in helping, but don’t have the time to read with a student each week, we have also have a number of other ways that you can help support Everybody Wins! Iowa:

  • Sponsor a student: For only 83 cents a day, you can sponsor a full program year of reading and mentoring for a child. Through a $25 recurring monthly gift, you can make a huge impact on a child’s life. As a privately-funded non-profit organization, we rely solely on the financial support we receive from our community to fund our programs. Learn more about becoming a monthly donor here: http://bit.ly/2wKI2cr
  • Choose Everybody Wins! Iowa in your employee giving campaigns or volunteer match
  • Support Everybody Wins! Iowa by using AmazonSmile each time you shop on Amazon.com. Sign up here: http://amzn.to/2ywiIGk
  • Follow us on social media for the latest news and updates (links can be found at the bottom of this page)
  • Share this message with a friend or family member who may be interested in becoming a mentor with Everybody Wins! Iowa

Thank you supporting our Power Read program. As a volunteer-driven organization, we could not have such a large impact on the lives of children throughout Central Iowa without your continued support and dedication.


2017 Governor’s Volunteer Award Ceremony

This year’s Governor’s Volunteer Award Ceremony was held on September 25 at Southeast Polk High School, where several of our reading mentors and one of our AmeriCorps members were chosen to receive the award. While not everyone was able to make it out to the ceremony, we would like to take the time to recognize these outstanding volunteers:

Ann Laughlin
Anu Vaitheswaran
Ben Johns
Brian Brozak
Cooper Hubbell
Eric Kisgen
Janet Short
Jennifer Stuber
Jim Behrens
Jordan Mains
Linda Newsom
Paula Kerman
Rhonda Snyder

We want to thank all of you for time you’ve dedicated to our program. Your service has made a tremendous impact on the lives of elementary students in Central Iowa. Congratulations!

From left to right: Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, EWI Mentor Anu Vaitheswaran, Gov. Kim Reynolds
From left to right: Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, EWI Mentor Cooper Hubbell, Gov. Kim Reynolds
From left to right: Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, IDPH AmeriCorps Mentoring Advocate Jordan Mains, Gov. Kim Reynolds

September 2017 Mentor of the Month

Bob Railey, EWI Mentor

Our September mentor of the month is Bob Railey, who has been a reading mentor with Everybody Wins! Iowa for 5 years.

Bob is reading at Monroe Elementary this school year. He read at Findley Elementary over the summer and also reads to kids in a similar program organized by the local Kiwanis club that he belongs to.

“Bob has been a dedicated and enthusiastic mentor with us,” Christine Russell said, who was a site coordinator at Findley Elementary this summer. “He builds a strong rapport with his students and conveys his love of reading to them.”

Upon retirement years ago, Bob decided he wanted to do something that would be beneficial with his time. That’s when he decided to become a reading mentor.

“I guess I’ve got one or two teacher’s genes buried in me somewhere,” Bob said. “I feel that reading is one of the most important things that children can learn because they’ll need to use it all their lives.”

Being a mentor to Bob means being a positive adult influence in a child’s life that they can relate to, at least for a brief period of time once a week.

During his time as a reading mentor, Bob has worked with several students who are first-generation Americans. He said that many of these children don’t get spoken to in English much at home, so their time spent together each week is crucial to helping them learn and become more comfortable with the language.

“It is rewarding to see how first generation Americans progress over the course of time,” Bob said. “I hope it’s setting them up to be citizens in this country and be productive throughout their lives.”

One of the main goals of the EWI program is to build students’ reading skills, and Bob has seen recognizable growth from his mentees.

“The biggest affirmation of what we’re doing is that some of the teachers say that the students with reading mentors, it’s amazing how much their reading improves compared to students who don’t have reading mentors,” Bob said.

Students in the EWI program always have the opportunity to pick out whichever book they want to read from our cart, which helps to keep kids interested in reading.

“The main thing is, if they’re willing to read it, let’s read it,” Bob said. “And hopefully it’s fun for them. More fun doing that than reading about history or the Mayflower or science. They get a choice.”

Bob said that although subjects such as science and history are important subjects, children learn different vocabulary from reading all types of literature, which is just as important.

If there are other retirees out there reading this, Bob wants to encourage you to pick up a book and read to a child.

“It’s a good diversion if you’re bored with not doing anything after retirement,” Bob said.
“It’s fun and very rewarding.”

Thank you for choosing to make a difference in the lives of our students, Bob!

September 2017 Coordinator Feature

Jan Fitzsimons, Regional Coordinator

This month’s featured Everybody Wins! Iowa coordinator honor goes to Jan Fitzsimons. Jan is entering her seventh year of coordinating with EWI.

Prior to becoming a coordinator, Jan had a brief stint as a mentor for a few months. She was assigned to read at the Children & Family Urban Movement breakfast program in Des Moines.

“I enjoyed that right away,” Jan said. “All of my (previous) experiences with the school systems just made me fall in love all over again.”

Jan’s experience as a mentor led her to taking on a bigger role as a site coordinator.

She was promoted to a regional coordinator position later on, before the 2016-2017 school year began. The position was one that was newly created within the organization.

As a regional coordinator, Jan oversees a handful of EWI programs and works with the coordinators at each site from her region to ensure that all of the programs in her region operate smoothly. She views herself as a mentor to the site coordinators that she works with and works with them to resolve any issues that they may have.

Jan’s previous experience working in administration and in the school system, along with her passion for reading, made her feel like she was a natural fit with EWI.

“I loved reading with my own children,” Jan said.  “I saw the difference it made in forging their values and in forging the way they thought. And we had the most interesting stories and conversations, so why wouldn’t I want to be in a conversation that would duplicate that? Of course!”

Jan has very much enjoyed watching the Power Read program grow over the years and has made many new friends within her community. She said that she has an extensive amount of positive memories from working with EWI over the years.

One memory in particular has to do with a group of boys who especially enjoyed shark books and dinosaur books. One boy enjoyed them so much that he decided to write his own book to bring to program.

“He got so enthused that he came one day with his own book that he had made,” Jan said.  “Albeit, it was heavy on illustrations and small on text and many conversation bubbles above his stories. But it was delightful to see what had happened.”

Another great EWI moment occurred last year when Jan was at the bank, and a young woman noticed Jan’s name badge. She then reached out to Jan and told her about how she used to be in the EWI program at Monroe Elementary School when she was younger.

The young woman happened to be from another culture, so English wasn’t initially a language that she was comfortable with.

“She caught on very quickly,” Jan said. “I loved seeing that. And the fact that she was now working at a bank now and she had high goals and purposes.”

Jan is certainly looking forward to making even more memories like these in the future.

“One mentor, one student, and one book at a time,” Jan said.  “And indeed, one school at a time, one program at a time, making a difference.”

Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to our program, Jan!