“You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax. All you need is a book.” – Dr. Seuss
For Valencia Chaney, taking part in Read Across America last week at Craighead Elementary School in Mobile was an opportunity to give back to the community and neighborhood where she grew up.
“I love any project that involves kids and I believe reading is their foundation for everything,” said Chaney, a business practices specialist at Alabama Power and an Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO) volunteer. “I want them to know that we care about them first, but they have to be able to read in order to do anything else in life.”
As the Mobile APSO chapter’s Read Across America project chair since 2017, Chaney has been instrumental in ensuring volunteers not only have a book that will hold the attention of the students, but that a book is donated to each class at the end of the day.
“We are very fortunate to be able to give back to the community in this way,” said Chaney. “Our crew headquarters is located directly across the street from the school, and students know that when we come to read to them, we are the same people in the building across the street and that we care. And that’s important. I want them to remember that we were there for them and that we cared.”
Students across Alabama discovered the magic of reading with the help of APSO volunteers as schools celebrated Read Across America March 2-6. APSO is a nonprofit volunteer organization of Alabama Power, Southern Nuclear, Southern Linc and Southern Company Services employees and their families who donate time toward bettering Alabama communities.
During the weeklong celebration, APSO volunteers visited more than 50 schools to read to students and highlight the importance of literacy, all while having some fun. Volunteers even dressed up as favorite Dr. Seuss characters to commemorate the famed author’s birthday on March 2.
“Read Across America is one of my favorite APSO projects because it provides me with an opportunity to interact with local schools, talk to kids about my profession and read to them in a fun and exciting way,” said Kodi Belford, site sourcing supervisor for Southern Nuclear and current APSO state president. “I am truly grateful for this experience each year.”
Created in 1997 by the National Education Association, Read Across America is a nationwide initiative for elementary school children to promote reading and is the nation’s largest celebration of literacy.