FleishmanHillard in Detroit Goes Back to School

July 13, 2016

by Alexandra Kenny

One of the more interesting client requests we’ve gotten in the past month was to read the book, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” out loud. Seriously.

That’s because FleishmanHillard’s Detroit office is in its second year of participating in the Lunchtime Reading Program with the organization Read to a Child®! Read to a Child pairs students in need with volunteer mentors that read to them once a week during their lunchtime. Research shows that reading out loud to children is one of the most important activities to ensure future success in the classroom and in life. FleishmanHillard’s Detroit employees have been matched with Southwest Detroit Lighthouse Charter Academy, an elementary school 10 minutes away from our office.

One great thing about the program is that colleagues are able to team up and take turns reading to the same child to ensure that someone is always available. Kelly LaVaute and myself have been mentors to the same student halfway through her 1st grade year all the way through 2nd grade. It’s incredible to see the progress that has been made in a short time. Being a second year participant has allowed us to step back and truly see the value and impact that we have made in someone else’s education. In turn, we have felt the impact as well! It is so satisfying to know that we work for a company that strongly allows and encourages us to volunteer our time to our local community. Being able to strengthen our camaraderie outside of office walls and represent our company in a positive light has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in my time here.

There have been many highlights from the time spent volunteering at Lighthouse Charter Academy. One of our proudest moments was when the Read to a Child supervisor let us know that our student’s reading level had gone up! Turns out revisiting all of those books from our childhood like “Bernstain Bears,” “The Snowy Day” and “Where The Wild Things Are” actually paid off. Another victory was when we made the leap from exclusively reading shorter picture book stories to more advanced chapter books, per our student’s request. We had lively discussions about “Mrs. Piggle Wiggle” and “Babe,” the sheep herding pig. Another highpoint of the program is the year-end celebration where we are able to give our student a book to read over the summer on her own. Seeing her eyes light up when receiving “Pippi Longstocking” is the best thank you we could ever ask for!

At the end of our 2016 school year, the child that we have read to for the past two years asked us both if we would be back again to be her mentor. It’s moments like that that make going back to school and sitting in tiny chairs so worth it!

The program is always looking for more volunteers and we are hoping to expand our Detroit office involvement for the 2016-2017 school year.