Volunteer Tutor at Reading Partners Bell Avenue Reading Center
Dennis Boyd was nominated to be Dr. Pan's Unsung Hero by organizers at Reading Partners where he has been volunteering as a reading tutor for the last six years. Reading Partners places community volunteers in low-income schools to help kids master basic reading skills. Reading Partner's evolved through a tremendous need in the community: Sacramento is the capital city of one of the world's largest economies, yet only 45% of third graders are reading at proficient or advanced level. This program and volunteers like Dennis help students become proud, confident learners, ready for success. If you would like to volunteer, please go to: https://readingpartners.org/
Tell us a little about yourself:
I give my daughter, Wendy and son, Michael (who are now adults in their 40's), credit to first getting me to actively serve our community. I held several activities during their pre-school and kindergarten years to raise money so that all classmates could attend several different field trips. This may have been my start, but my father did similar things while I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa, to teach me the value of helping neighbors in need.
How are you making a difference in your community?
Around 1985 I made a commitment to work for a year in my community of North Sacramento, and if I felt I was not contributing after that, I might move to some more affluent place. I do not know how my newly elected councilman Grantland Johnson discovered this, but somehow he did. He steered me in a direction that sent me forward. I consider myself a disciple of Grantland. Soon I found myself elected to the school board of North Sacramento School District, was an integral part acquiring and developing Neighborhood Housing Services in our area, and became chair of Noralto/Gardenland Target Advisory Committee after being appointed by city council. There I introduced and spearheaded the project developing a full time community center in Johnston Park.
I moved into the Robla district in 1994 to work where I could advance our community's well-being.
In 2002 I was selected by the Robla School District Board to fill a one year vacancy left by a member that had moved out of district, and continue to serve there today after many election cycles. Music, science, physical education, and community partnerships are some of the programs and ideas I pursued to help develop a sound educational community.
Six years ago Reading Partners approached Robla offering a program that focused on helping under-achieving readers to read at their grade level by the fourth grade. The one-on-one tutoring and previous record of successes sounded like such an encouraging opportunity, I volunteered to tutor myself at the outset.
Though we have a lot left to accomplish, the time I've spent over the years have been some of, if not the most, rewarding of all my endeavors. In the beginning I was a little concerned I'd have to be facing reluctant and unmotivated children. This false notion quickly faded as I discovered their desires to really want to read. Here was an organization that was asking you to volunteer just one hour once a week, and in my six years we are seeing better than an 86% rate in Sacramento. Granted, many of us put a little more than this minimum, but making new little friendships that many I'm convinced will last a lifetime and you know you helped them onto path of success keeps me, and many of us, looking forward to keep going on.
If there is one problem in our community that you wish you could fix, what would it be?
If there's one thing I could do to help make my community better it would be to instill how we can make such a difference by recognizing some area we have that we can offer to help someone else move forward. We all have busy lives, but we can all find a way to take out a little time for others. We don't have to start and build something new. Find your strength. You won't have to search far to find someone, some organization to help lead you in that direction. There are many rewards to reap including finding ways to strengthen yourself. But knowing you've helped someone and your community is most rewarding.
How do you decompress?
When I was younger I loved jogging daily. Motivating myself to start was also an almost daily occurrence, but a few minutes into it would always laugh at myself for thinking of not doing something so enlightening. I don't jog anymore but get the same joy from walking, and can still face the same obstacle of just getting it started. Fortunately my dogs won't allow me to give in to sitting still. I can say the same about lots I've chosen in my life. The motivation to start so often seems hard but the fun can begin as soon as you get at it.