As spring began in March, LINC embarked on our latest educational adventure by training 12 new determined parents and guardians who are committed to promoting early literacy. These highly-passionate individuals are what we call LINC’s Very Involved Parents (VIPs). They are literary advocates that make LINC’s work possible, serving in their communities as beacons of possibility and leadership. Many VIPs report having gained confidence and skills they would not otherwise have known thanks to their literacy stewardship. VIPs 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 hosted by LINC’s Senior Director of Family and Community Mobilization, Albania Jimenez and Very Involved Program Manager, Wilkarlys Zaman on the various practices that make up volunteering as a VIP. This includes methods for reading a story aloud, promoting literacy in a neighborhood, and planning and hosting events. Former VIPs often attend these sessions to offer insights into their experiences as well. At the end of the academy, each participant graduates into a VIP themself!
Gladys Gomez shared her own journey of becoming a VIP and watching her daughter succeed. Gladys connected with LINC in 2013 after learning her local library would be closed soon for renovations. She and her daughter Matilda went to their first LINC event in Kingsbridge. As Matilda attended more sessions in the summer, her reading confidence blossomed. Seeing Matilda and the other children apply themself by asking questions and sounding out words inspired Gladys to continue with LINC. She said watching her community’s children “trying, learning, and succeeding, that is why we are here.” Gladys has led and supported numerous literacy events, and is now on LINC’s staff as the Neighborhood Manager of the Bronx. It is the hope of the VIP Academy program that the graduating VIPs will have similar stories in their own neighborhoods.
During the academy, our new VIPs discussed what motivates children to read. Ericka Bravo, while learning about how to read books for an audience in virtual events, said that the most important thing about reading is to do it with love and to have fun. Edith Martinez mentioned that she uses themed books that her child is interested in to develop a passion for reading.
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 Very Involved Parent Program Manager, Wilkarlys Zaman at 212-620-5462, ext.142 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Register for LINC’s latest online programs now and spread the joy of reading with LINC.