Woman re­ceives AARP com­mu­nity ser­vice award

The Globe - - RELIGIOUSSERVICES - By Jar­reau Free­man

Some say the best things in life can come from an un­likely source, and those in­volved in the Read­ing Bud­dies pro­gram ex­pe­ri­ence that weekly.

When Abing­ton res­i­dent Pa­tri­cia Quigg be­gan 5HDGLQJ BuGGLHV — D QRQSUR­fiW RUJDQL]DWLRQ — in 1968, she had no idea that it would be a success decades later.

For more than 40 years, Quigg has worked with chil­dren and the el­derly with a de­sire to see them con­nect and learn from one an­other. What may seem like an un­likely pair­ing to most peo­ple, Quigg said “just made sense” in her eyes.

Read­ing Bud­dies in­volves ap­prox­i­mately 17 Philadel­phia pub­lic schools and se­nior cit­i­zen homes. Nearly 300 adults and 200 stu­dents from sec­ond through fourth grade are cur­rently in­volved in the pro­gram, she said.

Be­tween 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Mon­days through Thurs­days, chil­dren from var­i­ous in­ner-city schools leave the class­room for an hour to meet with an el­derly, adult men­tor at a nearby se­nior cit­i­zen home. In that hour, the men­tors help the mentee with read­ing and other re­lated as­sign­ments.

The pro­gram starts at the be­gin­ning of each school year and goes un­til June.

“[Se­nior ci­ti­zens] have so much to give through their life ex­pe­ri­ences and the chil­dren love hear­ing about it,” said Quigg in an in­ter­view.

In a sim­i­lar way, she said that stu­dents of­fer the men­tors a sense of youth and vi­tal­ity.

“They just love be­ing around the chil­dren,” Quigg said. “They make them feel a part of the world and stretch their minds to think in dif­fer­ent ways. The mentees re­ceive bet­ter qual­ity of life, be­cause it gives them some­thing to do and look for­ward to.”

Quigg’s pas­sion and ser­vice to the Read­ing Bud­dies pro­gram has not gone un­rec­og­nized.

In Oc­to­ber she re­ceived the Penn­syl­va­nia 2012 AARP An­drus Award for Com­mu­nity Ser­vice — the as­so­ci­a­tion’s most pres­ti­gious vol­un­teer award — at a spe­cial cer­e­mony in Harrisburg.

Named af­ter AARP founder Ethel Percy An­drus, the com­mu­nity ser­vice award hon­ors those who em­body the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s mis­sion “of en­hanc­ing the qual­ity of life for all as we age.”

“The award acts as a sym­bol to mem­bers and the pub­lic that we can all work to­gether for pos­i­tive so­cial change,” said AARP Penn­syl­va­nia Vol­un­teer State Pres­i­dent Jim Palmquist in a press re­lease. “Pa­tri­cia’s tire­less ded­i­ca­tion to the Read­ing Bud­dies pro­gram serves as an in­spira- tion, and makes her a par­tic­u­larly wor­thy re­cip­i­ent of this award.”

Quigg said she was nom­i­nated for the award by a friend and was ex­cited that she stood out among 40 other ap­pli­cants.

“I was sur­prised and happy to humbly ac­cept the award,” she said. “The award means a lot. Its recog­ni­tion for all the vol­un­teers. They are the ones that make the pro­gram work.”

Be­fore launch­ing Read­ing Bud­dies, Quigg worked as a bi­ol­o­gist for a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany for many years. Read­ing Bud­dies is far dif­fer­ent from her pre­vi­ous job, but Quigg said she loves her work.

“I en­joy the vol­un­teers I’ve met over the years and re­ceiv­ing smiles of grat­i­tude from the chil­dren,” she said.

One of the things Quigg said she en­joys most, is see­ing the how the men­tors in­ter­act with the chil­dren.

“, fiQG PyVHOI LQVSLUHG Ey WKH PHQWRUV,” VKH said. “Most of the chil­dren in the pro­gram are African Amer­i­can and the ma­jor­ity of the men­tors DUH wKLWH. $W fiUVW , VDw VRPH RI WKH PHQWRUV NHHS their dis­tance, but to­ward the end of the pro­gram many of them [opened up]. One woman took her mentee to the bal­let.

“This pro­gram has helped soften hearts — it’s so­cial change at its core.”

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