National City boasts a population of more than 55,000. One thousand of these are at Central School.
I spent a pleasant lunchtime at the school in the company of the reading teacher Mary Sdao and Mildred Craig a longtime volunteer at the school. I had been alerted to Central School sometime earlier by Ms. Craig. She is one of those persons who lovingly put in a few hours a week volunteering at various school tasks. She is a resident of the area and is one of those who believe that retired folks are much better off assisting others — particularly children — than sitting at home engaged in nothing. Ms. Craig’s principal occupation at Central has been working with children in a program called Oasis.
This is one of those worthwhile programs that has successfully melded a commercial enterprise with public education and has received positive results.
The program is open to all citizens over 50. Its proponents promise that those participating will not only help youngsters but will continue their own personal growth with a meaningful service to society.
The coordinator of this volunteer program is Roxanne Prine. Ms. Prine tells me the program is about 10 years old. It focuses primarily on schools that have a high number of children who speak little English or none at all.
Central School, for example, has a population of more than 90 percent who are of Latino heritage. The need for assistance in grades kindergarten through third grade is extremely critical. Oasis periodically runs a training program for prospective tutors. Ms. Prine told me they are constantly looking for volunteers. The Oasis philosophy is to provide an opportunity for older adults to develop relationships with primary grade children and to help foster in them a positive self-image and motivation to read and communicate.
Men and women over 50, who wish to be involved in something meaningful, are asked to contact Roxanne Prine at 296-2594 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the program’s goals is, “to strengthen ties between generations by providing opportunities for older adults and young children to develop friendships, understanding and trust.” Judging by Ms. Craig’s smile, when in the presence of the students at Central School, I think that goal was met.