“From My Heart” to GiGi’s Playhouse

Joan Blum has found another perfect location to volunteer!!!   As a retired Anne Arundel County teacher with 24 years in the classroom and a volunteer in a Baltimore inner-city school, she wanted to continue her commitment to helping young people.  When she heard about GiGi’s Playhouse in Annapolis (literally 3 miles from her home), she decided to check it out.

“The international organization GiGi’s Playhouse, that offers assistance to those with Down syndrome from birth through adult turned out to be a perfect fit,” says Joan whose husband had business cards printed with “Professional Volunteer.”  She notes about the Playhouse that there are programs for all ages with the mission to educate, inspire and believe that anything can help to make lives better for the participants and the families involved.  Joan likes that activities abound all week that are fun and purposeful for everyone.

“I am now the literacy tutor for a delightful 7-year-old boy who makes each session a growing adventure for both of us.  Smiles, laughs, reading and playing are incorporated into each hour we are together.  I thrill at his successes and bless that I am an instrument in his growth. I particularly like the Me-We-You approach to reading GiGi’s curriculum uses,” says Joan. “I thank GiGi’s Playhouse for bringing us together.”

Griffin’s Mom Mariann shared that they started coming to Literacy tutoring to avoid the “summer academic slide” and she has been so pleased to see how much he as grown in skills and confidence in his reading which she attributes to his time with Joan. “She is so warm, welcoming, and adapts to his needs during the tutoring session which keeps him motivated. She gears the lessons to his interests and level beautifully. He chooses to read his “GiGi’s books” at home over his other books when we have “reading parties”. She said one day at 5:30am he came crashing into her bedroom cheering,”Guess what Mom? It’s Wednesday, I get to see Miss. Joan at GiGi’s today!” She added Griffin wants to come to GiGi’s for programs in addition to the Literacy tutoring. He has really found a home here.”

“Joan’s commitment to young people goes beyond her teaching and tutoring,” according to a GiGi’s board member. “She has developed a curriculum for Healthy Teen Relationships through her membership on the Anne Arundel County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, and she has volunteered at the Anne Arundel County Homeless Resource Day program assisting families who find themselves in this situation in addition to being a costumed docent at Londontown Public House in Edgewater and her 26 years volunteering with Hospice of the Chesapeake. It’s no wonder her husband had those business cards printed for her.”

Our goal is to foster a love for reading and provide an opportunity to develop and master skills, all while building a positive relationship with our volunteer tutors.  Trained tutors work at the level of the child, continually challenging and encouraging him/her to reach their Best of All. Weekly lessons last 45-60 minutes for 10 weeks at a time. GiGi’s Playhouse Annapolis is accepting applications until August 28th from people who want to volunteer as tutors for the Fall Session (October 1- December 14).  No experience needed, you will be trained! Won’t you join us? For more information and to apply click here.

Student Applications can be found here.

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