I was never looking for any reward or recognition for doing this. I just wanted to help a few kids along the way.
Virginia, call her Ginger, grew up in Florida's panhandle but moved to Massachusetts in 1966 where she has lived ever since. She worked for many years in the medical field before returning to college and working for the IRS until she retired in 2005. Ginger has three adult children, one granddaughter, and a husband named Trevor. Trevor is a retired maintenance worker and will join Ginger on the cruise.
Ginger didn't want to sit in a rocking chair when she retired, and when she learned of a program called Jump Start, well, she jumped in. This was essentially a head start program where Ginger would sit individually with one child at a time and work with them on reading. She would do this once a week for each of three children throughout the entire school year, and the results were tremendous. Ginger did this for two years and then discovered Generations Incorporated.
Generations Incorporated is much like Jump Start, but it focuses on children already in school who are struggling with reading. Teachers identify the kids and then contact parents to suggest a customized program for them. That's where Ginger comes in. Like Jump Start, Ginger then works individually with each student for the 35 weeks of the school year helping each child read one book at a time. She asks questions about the book, patiently works through each difficult word of a sentence, and week-by-week watches the children start to get it. She not only improves reading skills but dramatically increases the child's confidence in his or her ability. Ginger gets to know each kid personally, takes an interest in their interests, and shows them the joy of learning new things. After the year is done, the average improvement in each child's reading skills is a two-and-a-half-year leap in reading comprehension. In short, Ginger helps put each child on the path for a successful experience in grammar and high school.
Ginger still works individually with children, but she is now the site team leader. This means she spends most of her time setting the program up, scheduling reading sessions for other volunteers, coordinating with and getting approval from parents, and managing the program. Says Ginger: "I just love what I do. I can see the kids improving each week and gaining skills they will need for success in life. At the end of the day, I think I get more out of this than the kids."