Volunteer of the week: Sue Mason, of Sister Lakes

Published 9:18 am Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Sue Mason, a resident of Sister Lakes and retired elementary school secretary, volunteers with Sister Lake Elementary School’s “reading buddies” program.

How long have you been volunteering with the elementary school?

This is my fourth year.

How did you get started?

Our church did a program with Sister Lakes about four to five years ago. They call it “reading buddies,” where we go in and read with the kids during lunchtime. When I retired, I started doing that.

How does the program work?

You’re assigned a child who needs some help with reading, and then you go in during lunchtime and read with them. They read for 15-20 minutes, then they get their lunch and then while they eat their lunch you can visit. The kids usually need some help with reading, but it’s also a way to build a relationship that the kids just need.

They need a little special attention. I’ve had one little boy, this is my third year with him now, and we’ve just become really good friends. I was just telling my husband the other day, I’ve started to see a real humorous side to him I’ve never seen before.

What kind of books do you read with them?

Whatever the kids want to read. We’ve done “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” before, when they were younger. The simple books that were at their level.

Last year, a little guy wanted to read this book about Nazi Germany and World War II. It was a little difficult for him but he seemed really interested in that story, and I was really impressed that he was concerned and showed an interest in that…it was very interesting.

How many students have you worked with over the years?

I’ve had three kids in the four years I’ve done.

Do you feel like you’ve really made a difference in the kids’ reading skills?

It really does help. They just need the encouragement of someone who is interested in them, and are willing to spend the time. It’s about an hour a week. They really enjoy it, and I enjoy spending time with them.

What motivates you to keep working with the kids?

Just seeing their smiles. It’s just a reward to see these little guys. I was sitting in the room yesterday and they kind of walked by like “did she remember today?” and they both had grins on their face when they saw me. It means a lot that it matters to them.

What would you say to encourage others to get involved?

There always seems to be kids who don’t have a reading buddy. It doesn’t take long, only about an hour, and it’s very rewarding to see them try to achieve and try to learn and respond to you.

People who want to volunteer with the program can contact Sister Lakes Elementary front office at (269) 424-3101.


Do you know a volunteer worthy of recognition? Nominate him or her by calling Craig Haupert, community editor, at (269) 687-7720, or by email at craig.haupert@leaderpub.com.