The month of April marks Global Volunteer Month, and a specific Volunteer Appreciation Week between April 16 and April 22. Partners in Education especially proud to show off their team of hardworking volunteers in the Mentors in Toledo Schools (MiTS) program.
Site Coordinators through the program are using this month to show thanks for the many hours volunteers have spent working with young scholars in the community.
MiTS is a support program whose volunteers work with students to increase their literacy confidence and prepare them to reach Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee. Each volunteer conducts 30 minute, one-on-one sessions with kindergarten through third grade students that are specialized to the individual’s needs.
Mary Toneff, a site coordinator, said there is more of a focus on qualitative benefits of the program through the relationships it creates.
“The special relationships that are built between students and mentors makes me smile all the time,” Toneff said. “We try to pair the same mentor/student together whenever possible so they get to know each other.”
Megan Reece, another site coordinator, said she has seen firsthand how students in the program love to read and learn with their volunteers.
“Our volunteers are on time, engaging and making a difference,” Reece said.
Volunteers for the MiTS program are not only benefitting students, though. Many volunteers say the work they do through the program benefits them greatly as well. Volunteer Mentor Valerie Lambert said the connection she feels to the community through volunteering is unmatched.
“There is something that one of our mentors has said a couple of times that really resonates with me to explain not just about the impact of what we do has on our students but also how what we do impacts our volunteers themselves,” Site Coordinator Nancy Hintz said. “He has referred to the work we do with our students as ‘fuel for the soul.'”
One volunteer even used her birthday as a way to donate materials and time. Linda Schlacter asked her family to gather supplies and prizes for the MiTS students. Another volunteer, BGSU student Jason Buschur, donated books to students by recruiting his family to help out.
“Our mentors (volunteers) are the glue that holds the MiTS program together,” MiTS Program Director Sharonda Diggins said. “Mentors’ willingness to give their time is greatly appreciated, and their support of the MiTS program allows us to continue to fulfill our mission.”
Partners in Education is proud to sponsor the MiTS program. Since 1994, Partners in Education of Toledo has worked to develop programming for K-12 schools in the area. By engaging businesses, higher education institutions, nonprofit agencies and communities of faith, Partners in Education constantly works to achieve its mission of supporting students as best as possible.
The MiTS program is still seeking volunteers, and is open to any Toledoan who wants to help out.
If you are in the area and interested in volunteering, visit partnerstoledo.org/get-involved or call 419-242-2122.