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eNewsletter - Issue 30 - May 2015
A Message From Luis

I recently joined others at Wesley United Methodist Church to celebrate Eleanor Bennett’s life and her many contributions to the community. Eleanor had been a volunteer tutor for Reading and Beyond for the past seven years. During the celebration, four words were often repeated in describing Eleanor: compassionate, unselfish, committed, and elegant.   These words were used by her elementary school classmates, by family members, by leaders in the community and by others like me. I only knew Eleanor as a volunteer, but I can testify that she embodied these words in the way she lived and spent her time in this world.

Here at Reading and Beyond, we will be grateful to Eleanor for not only the academic skills she helped build in the children she tutored, but for also fostering compassion, unselfishness, commitment, and elegance in all us. Thank you, Eleanor, you will be missed.



Eleanor Bennett Tribute

When Eleanor Bennett passed away on April 21, her death affected many lives because she did so much good while she was living. A former teacher, Eleanor was involved with numerous community activities. She was instrumental in partnering with Reading and Beyond to establish an after-school community site at Wesley United Methodist Church. When the after-school program began in the Spring of 2008, Eleanor was one of the first to sign up as a volunteer and encouraged her fellow church members at Wesley to become volunteer tutors. She not only tutored, she also assisted the program by applying for grant funding to support staff and tutoring supplies.

Over the years, Eleanor has helped many students reach their grade level in reading. For the last two years, she has mentored Melanie Guzman, a 2nd-grader at Wolters Elementary School. “She was my best teacher,” said 7-year-old Melanie. She helped Melanie improve “by making me read hard books so I can learn more.”

Eleanor made a lasting impact on Melanie and her older brother, Luis, who Eleanor also tutored when he was younger, said the children’s mother, Miriam Lopez. “She was a really nice person,” Lopez said. “She treated (Melanie) like she was her grandmother. When Eleanor went on trips, she’d bring back something for her or send a post card.”

Ashley R. Olazava, the site coordinator at Wesley, recalled Eleanor’s charismatic personality, “amazing smile,” and dedication to her students.

“She was a great tutor,” Olazava said. “She always knew how to keep her student engaged and how to get the best out of them. She helped Melanie so much and pushed her to go above and beyond. …Eleanor was a real inspiration to everyone who met her, and she will be greatly missed.”

Financial Aid Workshop for YES Parents

Students participating in the Youth Empowered for Success (YES) program and their parents attended a financial aid meeting on April 30 at the Zimmerman Boys & Girls Club in Fresno. College Prep Navigator Martha Fregoso presented in Spanish on the scholarship-applying process, the need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and the importance of paying attention to deadlines. She also provided tips on searching for scholarships, writing an engaging personal essay, getting letters of recommendations, and being cautious of scams that say they will help students find and apply for scholarships and grants.

Fresno State Students end their year

Students who participated in the Reading and Beyond at Fresno State program attended an appreciation dinner on May 7th at Mosqueda. The dinner honored the 56 Fresno State students who provided approximately 17,700 hours to Reading and Beyond during the 2014-2015 school year. Chris Fiorentino, the director of the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning, and Reading and Beyond’s Executive Director Luis Santana spoke at the event. While many students worked with Reading and Beyond’s K-12 literacy-intervention program, some also assisted other programs and provided staff support.

RAB Awarded Two Grants

Reading and Beyond received two new grants totaling $9,000 in May. The first grant from Bank of the Sierra was for $2,500, and the second one was from the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation for $6,500. The funds will be used to support Reading and Beyond’s after-school community sites.

Supervised Child Care Services Contract Renewed

The Department of Behavioral Health(DBH) and the County of Fresno has awarded Reading and Beyond a 3-year contract to continue providing Supervised Child Care Services. Since 2009, Reading and Beyond has staffed DBH’s Supervised Children’s Services at the Heritage Centre and West Fresno Regional Center. Each location sees an average of 200 children per month for a minimum of 1 hour. Supervised Children’s Services provide children with snacks and activities appropriate for their ages and development. This service is only available to clients while meeting with staff with DBH and the County of Fresno Department of Social Services.

Staff Spotlight: Maritza Ceballos

Visit the Reading and Beyond Preschool at the Mosqueda Community Center, and you probably will see Maritza “Mana” Ceballos actively engaged with children in the classroom.

“The best thing is seeing how much a child can learn at such a young age,” said Ceballos, who has been a full-time preschool teacher for two years. “I love seeing their progress throughout the year.”

Ceballos, who plans to attend California State University, Fresno, in the Fall and major in child development, said one of the hardest parts of teaching preschool is helping new students adjust to a school routine.

“Sometimes children have a hard time transitioning from what they were used to doing in their homes or with their care providers before us, and that can make it a hard transition,” she said.

Her experience at Reading and Beyond has taught Ceballos not to give up on helping children reach their potential.

“I have learned that teaching little humans isn’t always easy, but it sure is worth it,” she said. “I have also learned that this is what I want to do for a long time. Working with children is what I was meant to do, and I plan to continue doing it.”

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

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