All summer long, the corner of creativity inside of our Family Dining Room, known as the Dream Center, has been bustling with activity as students clamor for their favorite books. St. Vincent de Paul’s Summer Reading Program ignited a passion for reading among the Dream Center students, with over 21,000 minutes read this summer!
Each night, Dream Center students spend 20 minutes reading a book of their choice. Afterwards, they are required to write five sentences about the story they read. In exchange, students receive an entry in the weekly Dream Center raffle, a small prize, and a sticker next to their name on the “wall of stickers.”
In addition to reading each night, there were six summer reading program events. Students completed educational tasks to earn prizes and be entered into raffles to win books.
This program has taught the kids to take ownership of their actions and create their own success. Cindy Bernardo, the Dream Center Coordinator, has seen this as a great way to teach them responsibility and appreciation for the opportunities that the Dream Center provides.
Two young boys have especially benefitted from this program. Douglas and David are brothers who have been coming to the Dream Center for three years. David was nervous when he first started coming here but felt at ease when the volunteers were able to help him with his homework. These two have been thriving here ever since.
“I liked it because we get to write about the story and we get to read,” David said about the reading program.
Douglas and David have been reading the Amulet book series together.
“I like reading a lot. Sometimes it gets exciting. Sometimes it gets sad, happy, has different kind[s] of emotions,” David says.
For all the kids who come to the Dream Center, the ability to read books is a blessing. They are able to escape to other worlds, use their imaginations and dream big. Many of their families don’t have the means to purchase books or even go to a library. Some of the kids are on school waiting lists and aren’t able to receive the education they deserve. The Dream Center provides a place of hope where their minds can flourish.
David and Douglas are in the fourth and fifth grade, respectively. Because of the Dream Center, they are thriving in school. David says that reading was hard for him at first, but because of the Summer Reading Program, he’s found reading to be easier and quicker for him.
Not only have these two excelled in reading, but Douglas says that math is no longer difficult for him. He has spent time with our volunteers who have helped him learn multiplication and division.
“I’m doing math faster. Math and reading,” he says.
The Dream Center is tangibly making a difference in the lives of the kids who come to us. Dedicated volunteers walk step-by-step with them to navigate reading, writing and homework. Cindy Bernardo treats the kids as her own and knows each of them and their needs. Our generous donors provide money for materials and provide the materials themselves for our kids to succeed.
We are grateful for all who make it possible for Douglas, David and kids just like them to dream without limits.