Houston Volunteer of the Year: Mary Patterson

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Mary Patterson and 21 of her Hines colleagues in Houston became tutors with the TutorMate online literacy program this past fall through Read Houston Read’s “Literacy By 3” initiative. This initiative enables 1,200 students to receive one-on-one literacy tutoring from volunteers in Houston. RHR Coordinator, Carley Colton, shared that the goal is “…to ensure that all students are on grade level by the end of third grade in the year 2019.”

After getting to know Mary, it was easy to see that she truly embodies RHR’s “Volunteer of the Year” title, which Houston ISD awarded her in May. She is captured meaningfully on video HERE. Mary’s passion radiated as she spoke of her tutoring experience with first grader, Ruben, a student at Burrus Elementary School in HISD. Her unwavering dedication and commitment were inspiring.

Mary, a grandmother of six, formed a very strong bond with Ruben over the course of the school year, caring for him and encouraging him, as if he were one of her own grandchildren. Like clockwork, she never missed a session, sharing, “I was committed and so was Ruben. We would both look forward to our sessions every week. I could tell in his voice that he was excited, especially when reading the stories. His enthusiasm for reading is going to carry through as he continues learning. It’s given him the desire to grow and continue.”

A major highlight for both Mary and Ruben occurred when they recently had the opportunity to meet face-to-face for the first time at the EOY TutorMate celebration. She expressed how happy she was to spend time interacting with Ruben, as a way to celebrate the experience of working together for over 25 weeks.

Not only has Mary made an impact on Ruben’s ability to grow as a reader, but also on his curiosity and desire to continue learning and growing in his education. She noticed a distinct improvement in his self-confidence – an essential shift in his development as a reader.  Ruben’s teacher, Erin Green, also noted his progress, saying, “One of the reasons why he has improved…is because of these tutoring sessions, and it helps me out a great deal.” Mary and Ms. Green concur (as do we!) that access to educational programs – such as TutorMate – will help Ruben thrive in the rest of his academic career. He now has a foundation from which to succeed.

Ruben has also made a tangible impact on Mary – through the power of volunteerism and connectedness to her community and colleagues. More than anything, Mary shared a feeling of gratitude for having had the opportunity to assist in Ruben’s learning. She noted that she appreciated working at Hines – a company that encourages its employees to serve their community. Mary capped it all quite succinctly as follows: “I was able to do what I love to do – to serve – but I could do it from work.”

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