Be A Reader celebrates 20 years at 2019 BEAR Opening

by | Sep 2, 2019 | What’s Happening

Thursday, September 19, 9:30–11am
Sandler Family Campus

For 20 years, Be A Reader (BEAR) mentors have made a meaningful difference in the lives of children by sharing just one hour a week of their time during the school year. BEAR partners with Title 1 schools throughout Hampton Roads to give at-risk students, in first through third grades, the gift of improved reading skills, a love for learning, and hope for a better future.

Students are recommended to the BEAR program by their teachers and/or reading specialists as needing supplemental help or individual attention from a caring adult. BEAR students are typically neglected in their home environment, maybe because the mother works three jobs or the parents are deployed or even incarcerated. These children are most likely not read to by anyone at home or don’t have food to eat on the weekend, relying on free and reduced breakfasts or lunches at school. Some students are homeless or transient with no family support at all.

This program allows hundreds of students, for an hour a week, to leave stressed lives behind and see the world with their imaginations, through words and pictures.

The Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater is hosting the 2019 BEAR Opening. All past, present, and future BEAR mentors (and their friends) are welcome and invited to attend. Kathy Verhappen, principal of Granby Elementary, a BEAR school, will speak about the importance of literacy and the positive impact one-on-one time with a caring adult has on the life of a child.

BEAR mentors will receive a BEAR backpack filled with school supplies, books, and helpful tools for creating the best experience for their BEAR student. BEAR also provides students with five books throughout the school year, educational holiday and end-of-year gifts, healthy snacks, and the commitment of a compassionate mentor.

Consider joining BEAR in helping these children—the more BEAR volunteers, the more children can be helped. Be a part of this life-changing group of volunteers and fulfill the mitzvah of tikkun olam—repairing the world, one child at a time. It’s even possible to “Share BEAR” and divide the time with a friend.

Volunteers say they gain as much as they give. Gail Flax, one of the creators of and the chair of BEAR, says, “Both the mentors and kids look forward to BEAR each week and we always have a student to match to a volunteer.”

For more information or questions regarding BEAR or to RSVP, contact Ronnie Jacobs Cohen, BEAR’s director at or 757-321-2341.