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Fox Chapel library program readies volunteers to help children read

| Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

In the time it takes to grab a quick lunch, adult volunteers can be teaching children the joy of clutching a great book.

Reading is Fundamental (RIF) the oldest literacy group in the country, is seeking people to share with young students the possibilities found between the pages of a book.

“You go and read with a second- or third-grade student for an hour, and it can really make a difference,” said JoEllen Leech, a Fox Chapel resident and volunteer recruitment coordinator for RIF's Everybody Wins! program.

An information session will be 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27, at the Cooper-Siegel Community Library along Fox Chapel Road.

For more information about the program, call 412-828-9520.

Specifically, the group is seeking volunteers to commit one hour a week for the school year.

That connection increases the child's chances for success in school and in life, Leech said.

There currently are 10 RIF volunteers from the Lower Valley.

Founded in 1966, RIF is a Washington, D.C.-based group that aims to provide a solid literacy foundation for children that inspires a lifelong love of reading. It gives particular attention to underprivileged children up to age 8.

In the Pittsburgh region, RIF operates in four city schools: Pittsburgh King, Weil, Faison and Phillips.

Leech said volunteers are matched with a “reading buddy” whom they mentor for one hour a week the full school year.

She volunteered last year at Pittsburgh Faison in Homewood and said the adults got as much as they gave.

“They love the one-on-one attention,” Leech said. “And for the volunteers who want to share the value of reading, this is a chance to make a difference in someone's life.”

Leech said the RIF program uses three essentials to foster a love of reading — motivation, community involvement and “the excitement of choosing free books to keep.”

The program provides children across the country with 16 million books each year.

Leech said the program attracts a broad range of volunteers, from retirees to stay-at-home mothers and corporate employees.

It is particularly appealing to people with a tight schedule because it is brief and routine.

“You don't need any experience, just a desire to share the importance of reading,” she said.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, or at

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