United Way of Greater Newark hosted its yearly Celebrity Read volunteer event in the winter of 2023. Volunteer Layla Andrade and some of her colleagues from M&T Bank team participated in this event.
This is her story:
"I had the amazing opportunity to be part of the Celebrity Read Program organized by United Way of Greater Newark. We interacted with the children attending the Salome Urena Elementary School in Newark. During my interaction, I was able to learn more about the school, teachers, and most importantly, the children. The most rewarding experience came when I read a book to the class and saw how engaged and excited the children were. It was extra special to see some of them whom identified with the book on a personal level. Some even shared their own personal experiences with me. I was blown away by how reading a book and volunteering just an hour of my day could impact someone’s life. Simply reading, listening or learning about the school and teachers and their current challenges.
I strongly believe that volunteering within our communities could help to light the lives of the ones in need. At the same time, we become familiar with our community and connect with people to positively impact their lives.
Giving back is a responsibility we should all take seriously as community members, specifically to help those that are more vulnerable.
Lastly, and most important, this should not be the responsibility of a single volunteer. We are stronger as a whole when the entire community comes together to support the ones in need."