Lauri Atkinson is a volunteer tutor with United Way's Schools of Hope Reading Program. “It’s the highlight of my week,” she says. “It’s a reminder that we are part of the bigger community, and we should be giving back.”

Lauri tutors an elementary school student in reading once a week, for 30 minutes. Like all of Schools of Hope’s volunteer tutors, Lauri participated in one 2-hour training where she learned some skills to help her engage her student through reading. “You learn this way of looking at a book, which I didn’t know,” she says. “And I took it home to my kids!”

After 13 years of volunteer service, Lauri remains an advocate of the rewards for the students and the volunteers in the program. “I encourage people to participate,” she says. “I think it’s one of those things where you can actually see the progress of the kids, and there’s satisfaction with that.”

Lauri appreciates that her employer, Farmers Insurance, encourages her commitment to Schools of Hope. “It upholds our corporate philosophy, but it is also very personal,” she says. “Otherwise, you get so caught up in your corporate world and your own personal things that you’re working on, that you forget that we are a piece in this bigger community.”

Today, there are more than 70 children waiting for a tutor. You can help steer them to academic success by becoming a Schools of Hope volunteer, too.