Greenwich United Way celebrates Reading Champions

On Wednesday, May 23, the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich hosted an End-of-the-Year Celebration for its Reading Champions. The Greenwich United Way’s Reading Champions program, in partnership with the Greenwich Public Schools, is a literacy program pairing Greenwich youth with trained community volunteers in an effort to build fluency skills during the school year.

This year, 43 students at the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich after-school program were honored for their accomplishments. During the event, Greenwich United Way CEO, David Rabin; Reading Champions Co-founder, Joan Lowe; and Boys & Girls Club Executive Director, Bobby Walker; Reading Champions Program Ambassador, Kaitlin DeBellis were in attendance to say a few words. 

DeBellis addressed the audience and spoke about the importance of Reading Champions, “As the [Greenwich United Way] Reading Champions Ambassador, I am so grateful to be here to celebrate another incredible year of the Greenwich United Way’s reading fluency program and to personally thank each and every one of you for the work you do each day with our students. I can’t believe that another year has passed and that so many more students have been directly impacted by this amazing program! One of my favorite quotes by author and literacy specialist, Dr. Frank Serrafini, states; ‘There is no child who hates to read, there are only children who have not found the right book’. That’s what you each do for students every day, you match them with ‘just right books’, books they can engage with, and interact with and gain confidence with. You teach them to be readers, to love reading. You ignite this spark. Teaching a child to read is opening up a world of possibility that was not there before. As a teacher and now author – the gift of reading is very near and dear to my heart.”

Prior to writing ‘Choosing Hope’ and founding Classes 4 Classes, DeBellis spent her days with first graders helping them to become readers. “I still spend my summers doing so. I know the joy that reading brings to children and the sparkle they get in their eye when they’ve moved on to a new reading level. It is pure magic. The work that Reading Champions is doing here in Greenwich is invaluable. Reading Champions is bringing that magic to hundreds of children. I can’t think of anything more important. I loved what Joan Lowe said to me when we first met, in describing what she says to her students when she first meets them:  Joan tells them: ‘you are good at reading now, I’m going to make you a champion’. She then described the look on the child’s face: ‘joy’. These students are champions, they are determined to be the best readers that they can be, and Reading Champions empowers that desire and drive,” said DeBellis. She concluded, “In the words of Vince Lombardi; ‘The difference between a successful person is not a lack of strength, nor a lack of knowledge, but a lack of will’. These students have the will and Reading Champions has given them a way to succeed”.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Reading Champions program. The Greenwich United Way has supported this critical reading fluency program for over ten years by raising funds, recruiting volunteers and working with community agencies. Each year the Greenwich United Way organizes a series of private events, at each program location, to honor both volunteers and students participating in the Reading Champions program.

Some celebrations are open to the student’s immediate family members and are a heartwarming experience for attendees. The Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich is a Greenwich United Way agency partner and separately receives a grant through the Greenwich United Way Community Investment Process. Reading Champions is part of the Greenwich United Way Champions Programs. These programs are designed to give students the extra one-on-one support they need to improve academically. Champions Programs are powered by trained volunteers that are organized and led by the Greenwich United Way. Finance Champions is currently in a pilot stage with help from teens who volunteer with the Greenwich Junior United Way.  

To become a trained volunteer, for more information, or to make a donation, please contact Cecile Meunier through email ([email protected]) or visit Greenwich United Way online (

Linda Cochran, Stuart Marsh, Amy Dana, Sylvia Gordon, Catherine Phillips, Leslie Welhoelter, Phyillis Behlen and Joan Lowe.

Linda Cochran, Stuart Marsh, Amy Dana, Sylvia Gordon, Catherine Phillips, Leslie Welhoelter, Phyillis Behlen and Joan Lowe.

Bobby Walker, Kaitlin DeBellis, Joan Lowe, David Rabin.

Bobby Walker, Kaitlin DeBellis, Joan Lowe, David Rabin.

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© Hersam Acorn. All rights reserved. The Greenwich Post, 10 Corbin Drive, Floor 3, Darien, CT 06820

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress