Photo: Sean Sime

I am a public school kid of a public school teacher. I remember learning to read from the back of a cereal box with my mom as I ate breakfast each morning.  Encouraged by after-school teachers and librarians, I thought I would just read every book, starting with the authors whose names ended in A and working my way to Z.  The help of caring adults was invaluable in gaining the confidence I needed to succeed in school and life. Because of the encouragement and support I had at a young age, I  am still an avid reader today–of more than just food labels.

So many kids struggle to read. Without caring adults to help them on the path to becoming life-long readers, it is hard for children to develop the resilience to overcome intellectual challenges. When my daughter began pre-K and had trouble reading, it was the support from caring adults around her that helped her succeed.

I want every kid to have the attention and encouragement that my daughter and I have had. That’s why when my friend and Proskauer partner, Andy Bettwy, told me about the Read Ahead organization, a group that provides reading-based mentoring to kids in New York City public elementary schools, I couldn’t wait to get involved.

As a board member of Read Ahead since 2012, my commitment to the organization has grown as I’ve seen firsthand how the consistent presence of a caring adult can influence a child’s life. When I walk into PS 51, it’s like taking a deep breath and reconnecting with the community at large. Volunteering grounds me in the values that I hope to embrace and promote in the workplace, at home, and in my community.  I now also serve as Development Chair of Read Ahead’s board, responsible for overseeing our fundraising efforts to sustain and grow our program to serve more of NYC’s underserved public school children.

Reading is a way to escape the limitations of your own experience and expand your horizons. As a program that is both simple and impactful, Read Ahead does much more than help children to read.