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Partner Spotlight: Reading With Rover

There’s just 10 days left in our Animals theme for Jolkona’s Give Together campaign. Our growing community’s September donations are supporting the Snow Leopard Trust’s big cats, the Woodland Park Zoo’s baby animals and Reading With Rover’s therapy dogs. Have you joined yet?

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Reading With Rover, based in the greater Seattle area, may seem like the underdog in terms of organization size and social media footprint — but don’t be fooled. Who can resist a good dog? (Who’s a good boy? Whozagooboy? You are! You are!)

In the organization’s own words, here’s why it’s worthwhile to help dogs help kids learn to read:

What’s your mission, and why? What inspires your organization?jaba_001s

Our mission is create a safe reading environment for children by volunteering with our Reading with Rover therapy dogs in schools, libraries, community centers and anywhere there is a need. What inspires us is the joy on a child’s face when he/she reads to the dogs. What inspires us is when we hear from a father: “I’ve never heard him read aloud before, we were not sure he could read!” We make a difference in our community and we get to see that difference in the smiles on the children’s faces and the letters we get from parents. Helping kids learn empathy, become better readers and show kindness to a dog is a gift not only from our dogs but from the human end of the leash as well.

If Jolkona’s Give Together members raise $175 for your organization, what’s our impact?

$175 helps a dog and handler become a registered team by supporting the training class. $75 sets up one low-income child with a beginning reading bag, reading books appropriate for their age and needed start up school supplies. $300 pays for a therapy dog team to get the training, testing and register to volunteer.

In a nutshell, why should Give Together members support your project this month?

Reading is an essential skill that children need to be successful. 40% of all children by 4th grade are not reading at grade level and do not have appropriate reading material in their home. We not only want to help children be better readers, we want them to discover the JOY of reading by volunteering with these non-judgmental creatures, our dogs. We have been able to achieve that. We also help children who have physical challenges, and autistic children as well. We are all things kids and dogs, both making a difference in the world we live in. The world to a child is a better place when they can not only read, but love reading as well!

We took a school whose lowest attended day was Thursday, and that day is now the highest attended day — the only thing that changed is it’s Reading with Rover day at that school. When children know there will be a dog in their class room that day, they show up!

We love impact reports at Jolkona. Do you have a favorite story you can share about how your organization changed someone’s life?

A thank you note from a parent –boyanddog

How can I say thank you enough for everything that Reading with Rover has done for our daughter. I have always known that animals can have remarkable effects on humans and your Reading with Rover program just proves it. Our daughter has NLD, a Nonverbal Learning disorder, which effects her in many ways. One being reading and another is nonverbal social cues. She is very smart and so sweet but she realizes she is different and making friends is very hard for her. She is self-conscious about reading out loud, but when she read to the Reading with Rover dogs it was amazing. She wanted to read to every one of them that very first night and ever since then we have made it to every Reading with Rover event and will continue to do so. Our daughter gets headaches every time she reads, so it makes it very hard to motivate her to read but not at Reading with Rover. She doesn’t feel judged and that is so wonderful for her. We have seen a big improvement in her fluency and she has even started to read a little to her own puppy now, which we hope to train to be a Reading with Rover dog in the future.

I would recommend this program to any parent whether their child loves to read or not, it is just a great experience all around. Every one of the dogs and their handlers is so wonderful with the kids. My husband and I are avid readers and we have been reading to her since she was a baby and when we couldn’t seem to break through that barrier to get her to enjoy reading by herself we felt helpless but we don’t feel that way anymore and it is all due to your Reading with Rover program! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping our daughter raise her self esteem and know the joys of reading.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

We appreciate the opportunity to partner with Jolkona and look forward to helping our local children and of course the dogs with your support.

See? Good dog. Here’s a cookie! Gooboygooboygooboy.

For more on good dogs, and perhaps a cat or two, stay tuned to the Jolkona Blog and our social media channels (see below) all next week — we’ll be sharing #PetAdoption stories from our team, and would love to hear yours, too!

This post is part of our Partner Spotlight series. When you join Give Together, you can allocate your September contribution to Reading With Rover or one of our other animal-related projects. Email your choice to givetogether@jolkona.org, or tell us via Twitter: @Jolkona #GiveTogether #Animals.

Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.

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