This winter, LINC once again had the pleasure of training 14 passionate parents and guardians who are committed to promoting early literacy. These highly-committed individuals are known as LINC’s Very Involved Parents (VIPs)*. They are literacy advocates that make LINC’s work possible, serving in their communities as beacons of possibility and leadership. They promote the joy of reading through local literacy events in their communities, and together they form a larger network of support for each other across the five boroughs of New York City.
The VIP Academy is a series of sessions led by LINC’s own Albania Jimenez, Wilkarlys Zaman, and Gianna McGeough on the various practices that make up volunteering as a VIP. This includes methods for reading a story aloud, promoting literacy in their neighborhood, and planning/hosting events. At the end of the academy, each participant graduates into a VIP themselves!
VIP Alumni Elizabeth Figuero of Brooklyn shared personal experiences on the importance of being a VIP to her children and neighbors. Elizabeth volunteers with her children in a community garden on Pennsylvania Avenue. She said, “For all of the fruits that (the kids) are growing, I teach them the words to the foods like ‘strawberries’ and such, that’s how I teach them to read.” Elizabeth joined the VIPs because of the support that LINC gives to parents through this training. Like Elizabeth, each of the graduating VIPs at our VIP Academy had similar reasons for becoming a VIP.
Carlos Santino from Inwood became a VIP to be a role model for his loved ones and neighbors. His wife Sandra is a current VIP, and the two of them along with their adult son plan to support reading events in their neighborhood.
Some of our VIPs want to improve themselves while getting close with their children. Cecilia Oran of Lower Washington Heights shared that she joined the VIP Academy in order to help motivate her child to read and be a role model for other children. She stated that while she always had a love for working with children, the VIP Academy gave her the space to open up.
The VIP Program offers resources and help to those that need it, which was a relief to Beatriz Cerón, also from Lower Washington Heights, and her 3-year-old. Beatriz joined the VIPs because LINC has educational resources that were not available to her back in her country.
As LINC’s VIP Academy builds literacy advocates, their roles continue to evolve and expand. Many VIPs go on to become active in parent associations at their children’s school and lead other movements on their children’s behalf, all while supporting each other.
If you would like to create a culture of literacy in your neighborhood, please contact LINC’s VIP Program Manager Wilkarlys Zaman at 212-620-5462, ext.121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
* You don’t have to be a parent to be a VIP at LINC. Many people can become VIPs, including a spouse of an active VIP, an adult child (18+) of a past or present VIP, or a caregiver (grandparent, babysitter, etc.) in the community.