P&W Volunteers Inspiring Students, One Hour at a Time

Silver Lane Elementary is among the many locations where Pratt & Whitney volunteers are able to give back to their community through a program called Power to Read, a program of the Bridge Family Foundation.

Carol Pendray, assistant director, Power to Read: The sense of confidence these children gain from working with their tutors and all the people who come and volunteer their time from Pratt, who give so much to that one student who maybe isn't getting that somewhere else in their life – and they rely on that. They're so happy to come in here, so happy to see that person who's there just for them. It's their special time.

Renee Behlman, volunteer/Pratt & Whitney engineer: You'd really be surprised how much that one-on-one time matters to the kids. They know that you're there and you're showing up just for them. I really felt like it was important to say, "Hey, I read a lot too," so I started picking up more books and started reading 12 to 13 books a year. For me, it reinvigorated my love for reading as well.

The students who participate in Power To Read are encouraged to practice reading, spelling and pronunciation, while the tutors incorporate current events, geography and other topics of the students' interest, including what they want to be when they grow up.

Rosemarie Tamiso, volunteer/Pratt & Whitney retiree: Roberto, the student I have this year, he wants to be an engineer, and I think that this is a wonderful exposure to see people who come in to volunteer who are engineers.

Roberto, student: I want to be an engineer because I like to build technology, to destroy technology and rebuild it again.

Carol Pendray: We've had some amazing people from Pratt. I mean, for people to come back for 10 and 15 years in a row, continuing to volunteer in the same program, it continues to amaze us.

Megan Kwolek, volunteer/Pratt & Whitney engineer: Pratt & Whitney really cares about the community and their employees and they want to give back.

Renee Behlman: It's a really great benefit for the school, the students and yourself.

Patricia Champlin, director, Power to Read: All the tutors are so busy at work, but they've made this commitment and they realize how important it is to the students, so they keep the commitment.

Megan Kwolek: To take an hour out of my day to read with them, it's really enjoyable, it gives me a break and keeps me involved.

Rosemarie Tamiso: It's such a valuable program, and I really hope they continue with it because it makes a big difference in their lives. They feel special, and everyone wants to feel special.