About 20 volunteers who give their time to kids at Kyrene de las Lomas Elementary School gathered at Biscuits Monday morning to share their experiences and to be honored for their dedication to a program that helps add extra tutoring to students in need.

Kyrene de las Lomas is a Title 1 school with more than 40 percent of kids living below the federal poverty line. Many of the kids do not have the resources they need to practice what they learn at school at home.

Three years ago Karen McComish met with Connecting to Serve Executive Director Sheila Coonen and together the two came up with a plan to find volunteers in the community willing to lend their time to providing extra tutoring for students at the school. Since then, the Lomas Volunteers Program has been growing.

“Every time Karen puts a new volunteer out I think there’s a mad dash to the computer to ask for them,” said Principal Brian Gibson. “Before we were trying to encourage teachers saying, ‘Come on, this is really going to work.’ Now we hear, ‘Bring them over here.’ That’s been really great to get the feedback and see the interaction with the kids.”

Many of the volunteers are retired. They meet with McComish, and after a background check and finger prints they say what days they are available and are matched with a teacher in need. They help with reading, math and even as aids on the playground.

“I’m a parent so I spend my time worrying when I hear the teachers don’t have enough help,” said Carrie Brown, a parent who has also joined the program as a volunteer. “Now, more parents are having to work so we have less parent volunteers. When I saw a Lomas volunteer in my child’s kindergarten class last year I thought, ‘Great, at least we have a little help.’ I just want you to know a little goes a long way.”

Sen. John McComish, Karen’s husband, was also in attendance Monday morning to thank the volunteers for their work.

“These volunteers are great advocates from the school to the community,” Sen. John McComish said. “I always thought it was the other way around, but it’s not. They love the school and they take that love into the community and share it with others. It’s great to see.”

The program can always use more volunteers. There is a goal to expand the program into other elementary schools. To volunteer email Karen McComish at karenmccomish@yahoo.com or call her at (480) 496-6943.

Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

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