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eNewsletter - Issue 27 - February 2015

A Message From Luis

I want to start by saying thank you to those of you who reached out to me with sympathy cards, calls, and emails last month regarding my mother’s passing in January in Brazil.

As you may know, the Latino culture places great value on family. I felt blessed that I was able to spend the month of December by my mother’s bedside.  Then, on January 7th, I said goodbye to my mother and my siblings and headed to the airport. My plan was to return to the United States that evening.  However, my flight was canceled due to heavy rains. When I returned to my sister’s house, they just had received a call from the hospital. My mother’s 10-year fight against Alzheimer's had ended.

I was fortunate to be there for the funeral to celebrate my mother’s life and to support my sisters during that difficult time.  However, I am back and focused on the work we do here at Reading and Beyond - to empower children and families to achieve productive self-reliant lives.


Thank You!

In January, Reading and Beyond said goodbye to Katie Dill, who was a board member since 2011. Katie moved to Montana to fulfill a long-time dream of hers. During her term, Katie was a faithful and dedicated board member who was always willing to use her health background to educate the board as we made decisions. I lost a board member to Montana, but I made a friend for life.

Thank you, Katie.

In February, we said goodbye to Eric Johnson, who is our last serving Reading and Beyond founding board member; he served uninterrupted for 16 years.  During his tenure, Eric served in all the executive committee positons, some of them more than once, and in numerous committees.  Eric’s loyalty and dedication to the organization were appreciated by his fellow board members, my team of staff, and me.  As the founding executive director, I found in Eric an ally who always did his best to support me without compromising his role as a board member.  I couldn’t ask for a better partner.  His contribution to Reading and Beyond will be forever appreciated as he transitions from a board member to a community supporter.

Thank you, Eric.

Welcome New Board Members

Flavia Takahashi-Flores is the Founder/President of P*DE*Q,LLC. Flavia has been a Reading and Beyond donor for more than a decade, serves on our financial committee and, now, is a board member. I have watched Flavia grow in success as she continues to build her business. (By the way, if you haven’t tried the delicious gluten-free P*DE*Q bread, you are missing out!)

Welcome, Flavia.

Yvonne Juarez, MD, is Chief of Pediatrics at Kaiser Permanente Fresno.  She comes with a wealth of personal and professional knowledge of a large segment of our population.  Yvonne, like Flavia, had a choice to serve in so many other great local organizations, but she chose to serve at Reading and Beyond. We are very excited and looking forward to her contribution. 

Welcome, Yvonne.

Volunteer Selection Process Updated

After months of hard work by HR manager Kao Saetern and AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer Chia Vue, the new and improved Volunteer Selection Process was fully implemented in early January 2015.
There is now a more stream-lined, step-by-step process that all program managers follow after someone inquires about volunteer opportunities online, over the phone, or in person. This updated process allows Reading and Beyond to better track volunteer inquiries and new volunteers once they join RAB.
Around May or June 2014, Saetern met with Vang Kue, the office manager, and Matilda Soria, the research and development director, to organize the volunteer selection process. Soria typed up a draft. When Vue started her service year at RAB in August, she took over the update.
It took 4-5 months for Vue to revise the draft, create online forms, and test the process. On Jan. 8, 2015, the updated volunteer selection process was introduced to program managers. “I’m thankful that the program managers were receptive to the improved Volunteer Selection Process,” Saetern said.
Thus far, 52 volunteer inquiries have been made online, while three were walk-ins whose applications were then imputed online.
The new process continues to receive minor tweaks, but “the next step would be to get a full-time volunteer coordinator,” Saetern said. But that wish is still just a dream.
In the meantime, the updated volunteer selection process is processing inquiries as they come in.
“It was a long process,” Vue said.
“But it was well worth it,” Saetern adds.

New Boys and Girls Club Site

Reading and Beyond’s (RAB) partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs (BGC) of Fresno County continued to grow in January. BGC’s West location joins two other sites, which are Zimmerman and East, where RAB offers after-school literacy tutoring to K-3rd grade students. Funding for all three BGC locations is through a two-year grant from the Fresno Regional Foundation. The grant is to help younger children, ages 4-8, improve their reading.
“Members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County, usually do not attend any afterschool program, whether it is because parents do not know how to sign up, language barriers, or trust within the school system, these students fall in the cracks and are left with little help after school,” said Kelsey Chavez, the education coordinator at BGC. “With Reading and Beyond partnering with Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County, these students, who would have fallen farther behind, are given a chance to break the barriers in front of them. Reading and Beyond has made a smooth transition into the Boys & Girls Clubs and been able to work with members effortlessly.”

Preschool has Open Spots

Reading and Beyond Preschool at Mosqueda has openings. The licensed preschool, which has state- and private-pay options, offers low teacher-child ratio, digital literacy, child-initiated learning, physical education and nutritious meals.
To qualify for state-sponsored preschool, children must be 3 to 5 years old and meet need and income requirements. For students in the private-pay preschool, children must be between 2 ½ to 6 years old. Partial scholarships are available for full-time and part-time RAB staff, Fresno Pacific University staff and students, Butler Church staff and students, and families with an earned income of less than $80,000. Subsidized, alternative-payment programs are accepted. For more info, contact Barbara Wons-Daniel or call 600-6193.

Chiliís Fundraising Event

Join us for Chili’s Night! Enjoy dinner at Chili’s on Wednesday, March 25. When you go and show them Reading and Beyond’s (RAB) Chili’s Night flier, the restaurant will donate 15% of your bill to RAB. Proceeds will go toward staff- and volunteer-related events, including the year-end holiday party. Remember, the flier must be presented when you’re dining out in order for RAB to receive the donation.

Chili's flyer download

New Faces at Reading and Beyond

Martha Fregoso

College Prep Navigator

Erika Ramos

Family Navigator

Yer Her

Mobile CalFresh/Medi-Cal Outreach Specialist

Imara Infante

Mobile CalFresh/Medi-Cal Outreach Specialist

Edel Nunez

Career & Family Navigator

John Arbie

Education Navigator

Maria Ceja

Education Navigator

Volunteer Spotlight: Miranda Van Vliet

Miranda Van Vliet doesn’t have to wait for her education degree to start teaching. As a literacy tutor with Reading and Beyond’s (RAB) After-school Program at Mosqueda, she’s already educating children.
“It’s opened my eyes to a role I see myself doing as a career,” said Van Vliet, a 20-year-old Fresno Pacific University junior from Modesto who wants to teach K-3rd grade.
Before volunteering at RAB, she didn’t know much about the organization and the literacy programs that were offered. However, she knew she wanted to tutor. When she received information about RAB, “it caught my interest right away that I would get to help kids and get to interact with them,” she said.
Van Vliet began tutoring students in Sept. 2014, and plans to continue to volunteer until the fall, when she graduates. During her first semester, she’s gained some practical skills she’ll be able to use as a teacher, such as classroom management.
She’s also seen how tutoring has impacted her students.  “It’s been rewarding to see the kids progressing in their literacy,” she said. “I had 11 kids, and they all moved up in their literacy levels or reading abilities.”
The work she’s performing is fulfilling, and she wouldn’t hesitate to encourage other college students to do the same, she said. “You’re enhancing your students not only in reading but also in skills outside of the classroom,” she said, such as responsibility. “It’s been more life giving that I thought it would be.”

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4670 E. Butler Avenue
Fresno, CA 93702
559/600-6191 Ph.
559/600-7639 Fax

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