WITS Volunteers Coming Together to Support Students

Sara MartinezPartnerships, Volunteers

This school year, WITS will look a bit different than our typical programming. Programs will be completely virtual from November 2020 through May 2021. The WITS community has come together to make virtual programs possible and ensure students maintain normal routines during remote learning. Our corporate partners are an integral part in ensuring WITS programming occurs every year, and it’s exciting that they are committed to continuing their partnerships with virtual programs.

Corporate volunteers are coming together this year to support students in a new and exciting way. Two volunteers share below why they are choosing to continue mentoring this year.

Lincoln Abbey- CME Group Volunteer
How long have you been a WITS volunteer?

Last year was my first year. I shared a student with another mentor, alternating weeks. The season was cut short due to the pandemic, so I think I only did half a dozen actual program sessions with my student. As a result, I still feel pretty new to all this.

Why did you decide to mentor this year?

The WITS program seems to be really well run, and to perform a valuable service in our community. I’m impressed by that. I don’t come across that combination a lot. My company makes it easy for me to participate; they want me to participate. And the kids are great. They’re kids: they’re fun, they’re curious, they’re rambunctious. As youngsters facing tough challenges, they deserve support and encouragement. If I can help one of them a little bit, out of the store of time flexibility and educational privilege I enjoy, that makes me feel good.

What are you hoping to get out of WITS this year?

Well, my first thought was too idealistic — that I don’t want to get anything out of WITS, I only want to give something back to WITS. But that’s not true — that’s not realistic, or sustainable. What I expect to get out of WITS is a feeling that I am, or at least may be, doing even a little bit of good for a student, and maybe by extension one or two of the teachers and WITS staff. I meet these people — the kids, the WITS staff, the teachers — and I like them and I respect their aims and struggles. It just feels good to support them in this small way.

Stephen Roach- Exelon Volunteer
How long have you been a WITS volunteer?

I have been volunteering with WITS in the workplace mentoring program since 2013.

Why did you decide to mentor this year?

WITS is a wonderful program for students and mentors. Over the years, I have watched students grow from reluctant to confident readers all while having a great time. I always leave WITS feeling energized and fulfilled. For those reasons and so many more, I would have been back regardless, but this year it feels even more important to volunteer with WITS. Students, teachers, and parents are dealing with so many challenges right now and this is a small way that I can help.

What are you hoping to get out of WITS this year?

I am hoping to get students excited about reading, build relationships, and have fun!


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to the homes of students and classrooms of Rochelle Lee Teacher Awardees each year.

Wits provides

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of literacy mentorship each year in Chicago Public Schools.