For over 20 years, the BLG Reads to Kids program has partnered with OttawaReads to teach early literacy to students in kindergarten to grade four at Queen Elizabeth Public School. Through the voices of dedicated BLG Reads to Kids volunteers like Jane Bachynski and Emily Candy, we witness the individual and communal transformation that comes from simply opening a book with a child.
Jane Bachynski: Over Two Decades of Dedication
Jane Bachynski, Senior Counsel at Borden Ladner Gervais (BLG), has seen the program evolve since its inception. A committed member of the Reads to Kids (RTK) committee, Jane’s advocacy for children’s literacy began even before BLG Reads to Kids was launched. Understanding the fundamental role of literacy in a child’s development, Jane, as a lawyer, has always appreciated the power of words and the doors they can open.
Her journey with the program has been a heartening chronicle of community engagement. At Queen Elizabeth Public School, where BLG volunteers have consistently devoted their time, a bond has been forged not just with the students but with the entire school community through their time working on the school’s gardens and donating books and school supplies.
A recurring, heartwarming moment Jane experiences as a volunteer is when she stands at the classroom door, ready to take a child to the library for a reading session. As soon as the children see her with the BLG Reads to Kids T-shirt, they enthusiastically raise their hands and say, “Pick me, pick me!” This simple yet powerful gesture symbolizes the children’s eagerness to read and the joy they find in the program. It’s a moment that never fails to bring a smile to Jane’s face.
Jane shares her gratitude for BLG’s partnership with OttawaReads, and the impact the program has on the community. She encourages other companies to consider similar initiatives, stressing the benefits of this kind of volunteering on a personal and organizational level. She believes that Ottawa, with its robust support from OttawaReads, is well-positioned to make a meaningful difference in the lives of young students.
Emily Candy: A New Chapter of Involvement
On the other end of the spectrum, we have fresh perspectives from newer volunteers like Emily Candy, Director Talent Advisory – Business Services. Drawn to the program’s mission, Emily’s motivation to join BLG Reads to Kids stemmed from a keen awareness of the disparities in access to reading resources. She empathizes with children who might not have the luxury of books at home or the opportunity for one-on-one reading time.
Reflecting on her first year, Emily recounts her experiences with a sense of warmth and accomplishment. She speaks of the children’s progress, from hesitant listeners to engaged readers, and the rewarding opportunity to witness their growing confidence in reading aloud.
“I realized that if I could make even a small difference by spending just an hour a week reading to a child, it could spark an interest in reading and learning that they carry with them throughout their education.” Her experience has been one of mutual discovery—learning from the children even as she shares with them the wonders found within the pages of a book.
A Legacy of Literacy
The BLG Reads to Kids program has instilled a love for reading in young students while providing volunteers a profound sense of purpose and connection. Jane emphasizes the importance of organizations partnering with OttawaReads to leverage their expertise in training, guidance, and support. The long-standing partnership between BLG and OttawaReads has streamlined the volunteering process, making it more accessible and effective for all involved.
BLG Reads to Kids’ journey with OttawaReads is a testament to the profound impact volunteering can have on both individuals and the community. It serves as an inspiring example of how dedication, love, and a desire to make a difference can shape young lives and build a stronger, more inclusive society. Adriana Johnston, OttawaReads Program Manager says it best,
“I am consistently impressed with the passion and dedication shown by everyone I encounter at BLG! They make such an important impact on the teachers, staff, and most importantly, young readers at Queen Elizabeth PS and they are a cornerstone of ONFE’s OttawaReads program. BLG is an exemplar of corporate community building and we are very grateful for their involvement in the program – thank you to all the volunteer readers!”
How BLG commits to volunteering and how you can get involved
BLG Reads to Kids recognizes the importance of balancing professional responsibilities with volunteering. They have successfully created a system that aligns with the busy schedules of professionals, including lawyers and their support staff. By setting up teams that rotate on a weekly basis, members can participate in reading sessions every four to six weeks without a significant time commitment. This allows for a manageable integration of volunteering into professional schedules. Furthermore, the program is designed to be flexible, accommodating unexpected professional demands by offering standby readers and the option to swap reading dates. This ensures that the organization’s operations can continue seamlessly, while still fulfilling their commitment to volunteer.
This thoughtful structuring of the program demonstrates how it can be seamlessly incorporated into the fabric of any organization. We encourage organizations to join OttawaReads and be part of a community initiative that not only fosters early literacy but also demonstrates a company’s commitment to social responsibility and employee development. By participating, organizations can make a positive impact while also enjoying a program that respects and adapts to their professional needs.
We are grateful to BLG Reads to Kids and their longstanding partnership, and innovative approach to helping kids at Queen Elizabeth Public School. Click here to learn more about BLG’s recent 200th anniversary celebration and their 20 year journey in supporting early literacy.