BeAR Literacy program invites new volunteers and welcomes returning members

by | Sep 8, 2017 | What’s Happening

Monday, September 18, 11 am
Sandler Family Campus

The Be A Reader literacy program will launch the 2017-2018 school year with a welcome brunch and meeting for volunteers and school captains.

Commonly called BeAR, Be A Reader is a literacy program through United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Community Relations Council. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of volunteers, the program has operated for nearly 19 years. BeAR’s primary goal is to help at-risk second grade students in area public schools acquire the reading skills they need for future success. Each week, volunteers read one-on-one with a child at participating schools for one hour.

“It’s only a short period of time each week, yet it means so much to the children we work with,” says longtime mentor and school captain, Carol Rosenblatt, who has volunteered with BeAR since 2006. “So many of these students lack someone working with them at home, some come from two-parent households, but many do not,” she says. The volunteers, according to Rosenblatt, offer these students dedicated one-on-one time that they typically do not get from home.

All but one of the participating BeAR schools are considered Title 1, which means that a large percentage of the students come from low-income families. The schools with the Title 1 status receive financial assistance to ensure that the children meet state academic standards. BeAR provides the students with five books for their at-home library, school supplies, and a commitment of one hour per week throughout the school year.

While the literacy program’s ultimate goal is to help students who are struggling with reading, the outcome is usually much more. In fact, by the end of the school year, most of the children who have participated in the program are reading at grade level or above.

David Faircloth, principal of Larrymore Elementary and a supporter of the BeAR program, both from an academic and social perspective, says, “Our students gain more than academics. Their confidence level grows and their social skills improve because of the positive, collaborative, warm atmosphere our volunteers provide.”

The longevity of the program speaks to its success, and the volunteers are what make BeAR sustainable. “We LOVE the program because of the wonderful volunteers and the invaluable service they provide to our students. They are truly making a difference every time they step into the building,” says Faircloth.

Opportunities to get involved with BeAR include volunteering, purchasing school supplies, or making a donation to the BeAR program where all funds are used to purchase books, school supplies, and workbooks for students.

For more information on BeAR, including ways to get involved, contact Wendy Weissman at or 757- 965-6107 or visit

– Wendy Weissman, assistant director CRC