VIP Spotlight: Jen Moreland

April 16, 2018 | United Way Team

Jen Moreland and her colleagues from Raining Rose signed up to participate in the Volunteers in Proficiency (VIP) program. Read more about VIP and how you can help a local student succeed in school and beyond.

What drew you to VIP?

When I heard about VIP, I was excited to learn this program is ideal for people with a busy schedule, like me! It’s very difficult to find time in the evenings between meetings for another charity event I chair, attending my MBA classes, and squeezing in time with my husband, so the option of doing this once a week for 12 weeks for only 40 minutes during my lunch hour is the perfect answer! Plus, with schools in both College Community School District and the Cedar Rapids School District participating, you shouldn’t have to drive too far to read.

What excites you about this opportunity?

Many other charitable organizations I engage with center around two of United Way’s focus areas, financial stability and health. The VIP program aligns with the remaining focus area of education. We know reading proficiently by the end of third grade is a predictor of high school graduation and life success. I am very excited for the opportunity for such a hands-on activity where I can personally see my impact through the students’ growth and development!

How is your employer participating?

I offered the opportunity to become a VIP Reader to individuals in my company, and many signed up right away! In addition, my own team is participating and we requested assignments at the same school, which is easy to do during United Way’s sign up process. That way, we can drive together and share the experience, plus volunteering can be a lot of fun as a group. We are so lucky that Raining Rose not only allows for volunteer opportunities, but also readily supports them. Experiences like this lead to more engaged employees; it’s a win-win!

Is there anything that you or your team is nervous about?

I think there is a little fear about connecting with a child who is a complete stranger to you and vice versa. But that’s what the books are for! They serve a purpose to help create a dialogue and then the relationship will come. United Way trains VIP participants on how to read to kids and have them read to you. They also teach you how to start dialogues and ask questions to ensure kids understand what they are reading.

What was your favorite early elementary book?

I was fortunate enough as a child to have others read to me and read a lot on my own. If I had to pick a favorite book, I would choose “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. As an adult, I admit this is still one of my favorite books to read to my niece and nephews.

If a friend asked you about this opportunity, how would you “sell” it to them?

I believe you receive opportunities every day, but it can be easy for the white noise of our daily life to consume our activities and time. Please consider volunteering for this program as this next generation will be our doctors, educators, and employees. Beyond that, you have an opportunity to influence the life of a child and change their future altogether. For 40 minutes a week, who can say they spend their time a better way?