Courtney is a 7th grader in Middle School. As part of her Bat Mitzvah project, she was a volunteer mentor in the White Plains Reading Buddies After School (RBAS) program at a local Elementary School during the 2011-2012 school year. Every Thursday, from December through May, Courtney and her friend, could be found in the small media room of the library, working with their students, Quinay and Erica. For a full hour each week, homework was completed, stories were read, laughter was shared and friendships were formed.
Last week, we enjoyed our end-of-year celebration of RBAS during which the students and mentors were informed that, as a result of budget cuts, RBAS might not be continued in White Plains next year. Courtney was shocked; she decided she needed to do something. She approached the Executive Director of the program to find out what was needed, and upon learning the sum, without hesitation she offered what she could, her Bat Mitzvah money, because as she said, “I don’t need it.” As soon as she got home from the celebration, she sent the email below to her friends asking for their support in saving RBAS:
From ThE dEsK oF:
CoUrTnEy :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)
Courtney and Quinay celebrating Quinay’s completion of Reading Buddies After School , May 10, 2012.
Recently the program where I volunteer has been told they will not receive their funding next year from the state. Without this money they will not be able to continue. I work after school through the JCY of Westchester at ……… at RBAS, Reading Buddies After School, I tutor kids with my friend. We each tutor girls and we love helping them. They are both lovely people. They have trouble in school though. Their families do not have the funds to hire a private tutor nor the time to tutor them themselves. Their parents often work all day. New York State is currently sitting on the money that the program needs. Without the program these kids have no means of receiving after school help. The State had a certain amount of money that they spend on after school programs, however a lot of that money had been transferred leaving very little money for after school programs. As I am only a seventh Grader, I do provide her with more help than I realized. Please help us. The only way they will get their funding back is if enough phone calls, emails or letters are sent to state senators, governors or national senators, otherwise the program will remain on limbo. Again, please take a few minutes out of your day to make this call and forward this to others.
How much of that Bat Mitzvah money is needed is for Courtney and her family to decide, but her commitment, on the spot, to support the program she believes in, with whatever she has, stopped me in my tracks. It echoed for me the answer to a question asked a long time ago, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”
You probably understand how important these early learning years are to Quinay, Erica and those like them; their afternoons will soon be spent in afterschool jobs to help relieve their families’ financial stress. If these young people are to build the academic foundations that can help them through their lives, their future is now. Won’t you join Courtney in her commitment to maintain these programs? Make the call; write the letter. You don’t need to give all your Bat Mitzvah money – but every little bit helps.
To find out more about RBAS or any of JCY-Westchester Community Partners’ other intergenerational Literacy Programs, please contact Randee Ginsberg, Recruiting & Public Relations Manager, at (914) 423-5009 or visit us at www.jcy-wcp.com.