Community Impact: Hoping For Strong Return of Tempe Reading Program, National Model

By Recker McDowell —

COVID-19 has upturned so many aspects of daily life. Public health, jobs, and activities we have taken for granted such as travel, going to the movies or a sporting event or church have all been changed. We are still figuring out when many things will return to some resemblance of normal.

Volunteering and community work have also been impacted by COVID-19 when many need a helping and caring hand most. Social distancing and concerns about COVID spreading have forced some nonprofits and community groups to close or limit on-site services. Older volunteers and others have had to cut back on serving their communities to protect their health.

We hope and pray programs and volunteers who help seniors, kids, the homeless, and others can soon get back to doing what they do best: helping others and lifting up our communities.

One of those programs is the Experience Corps in Tempe. The program links adults 50-years of age and older with kids (kindergarten through 3rd grades) to help them improve their reading skills. The Corps is a partnership involving the city of Tempe and AARP. The effort has helped more than 3,000 kids with their reading skills since the program started in 2006. Tempe’s Experience Corps helped 480 elementary students this past school year, which was also impacted by COVID-19.  This program helps not only the kids but also the volunteers who are able to give back to our community. The Tempe effort is a national model for other cities with similar programs.

While social distancing and COVID-19 may impact when and how programs like Tempe’s Experience Corps return, we hope and pray it will continue to help kids as well as the volunteers who drive it.

Check out a video on the Experience Corps program here and more information on the collaborative effort between AARP and Tempe can be found here.