Child’s First Book Broadens Horizons Child’s First Book Broadens Horizons

Child’s First Book Broadens Horizons

November 8, 2017

Three cheers for volunteer Cheryl who shares her passion for reading to little ones at Epiphany Center


“In between dispensing advice on breast-feeding and immunizations, doctors will tell parents to read aloud to their infants from birth, under a new policy (from the) American Academy of Pediatrics.—New York Times

You have been volunteering on behalf of the infants and children of Epiphany Center for a few years now. What inspires you about the agency?

What initially drew me to Epiphany Center is the hope that the building and people represent.  When I tell folks unfamiliar with the agency that I volunteer helping children at a women’s recovery center, they initially often remark how sad that could be, but I tell them it’s the opposite. The staff and moms are all striving for something better which makes it a very positive, special place.  A place like Epiphany keeps children out of the foster care system. There are not many safety net programs for low-income women, let alone low-income mothers with substance abuse and mental health issues. A safe, uplifting space like Epiphany offers a much-needed haven where women can rebuild their lives for themselves and their children. I am inspired to be a part of a place where people are rebuilding, creating, and trying new things.

How long have you been volunteering at Epiphany and what initially brought you to the agency?

I have been volunteering for nearly two years now. I first connected with Epiphany when I co-chaired a holiday Head Start program where gifts were given to Epiphany Center. I thought it was interesting that the agency asked for jackets. So I checked out their website and was inspired reading about their mission to end the cycle of homelessness, poverty and substance abuse.  Epiphany Center provides children and moms a palpably safe place where they can bond. Walking in the door, whether or not you are religious, you feel connected to spirituality here. It’s very peaceful and that’s what life is about. Just two hours per week volunteering, I get so much out of it. It’s really wonderful to be able to have such tender relationships with the little ones.

You are a strong advocate for both reading to the infants and encouraging our efforts to teach the moms to develop the habit of reading books to their babies and children. Why do you think this is so critical?

I grew up around books. My mom was an avid reader. I felt a lot of comfort reading. I still love books and often head to Books Inc. in my neighborhood when looking for a tranquil, yet engaging environment. Reading has supported me in my life, and I want to share that love for books with the children. Reading books creates the ability to use their imagination as well as increases vocabulary. It’s an accessible way to expand their horizons.  Not only do I read to the toddlers but also to the newborns. It is never too early to develop a love of reading. Additionally, it’s a great habit for the moms to establish early on in their relationship. Consistently reading for 15 minutes per day will go a long way toward familiarizing kids with words and numbers.

What are your favorite books that draw in your little listeners?

I really enjoy the series of Olivia books because she’s so sassy and a great role model. I also like Goodnight Gorilla; Happy Hippo Angry Duck; A Fish out of Water; and Have You Seen My Cat?

Learn more about volunteering and making an impact here.