Summer Reading Buddies at the Park in partnership with ACPS

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Despite the high heat and unpredictable rain, Casa Chirilagua had a productive summer. On Tuesday and Thursday nights Mount Vernon Community School and Casa Chirilagua hosted a pilot program: “Reading Buddies at the Park.” The high community turnout on the first day was pleasantly surprising. A number of students and their mothers came to the park simply to read together for one hour. Upon noticing the need for water at the event, one of the mothers in the community remedied the situation by bringing out her own jugs of water and cups.

On one particular day, over 70 people attended the gathering, slowing traffic on the small side street due to interest in the large assembly of people. Even a retired librarian from Mount Vernon Community School excitedly gave us materials promoting reading to hand out to the families. It was truly a community effort!

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A note about “Reading Buddies at the Park” from Julio:

Two things surfaced quickly for me during our reading times in the community. First, kids in our community are hungering for quality adult attention. Some of our most active kids were happy to read not because we had books, but because there were so many encouraging adults present. One kid who I had met for the first time the previous week looked up at me while we read and said, “I didn’t even know you, but when I first met you I cussed a lot.” I knew it was his way of apologizing and now when he is around me he does not use inappropriate words. Secondly, there is a big need for adult education in the community.

Many mothers talked to me about how important it is to have someone to read with their kids because they cannot read in Spanish or English. A deep desire of the parents in our community is to see their kids to succeed in school, but their kids are at a disadvantage. These two discoveries help us understand how vital Kids Club is for our community. The story of the Good Samaritan calls the body of Christ to intentionally and specifically attend to the wounds of our neighbor. The ministry of Kids Club is one way we can love our neighbor in a very intentional and specific way.

– Juilo