Reading Volunteers Honored at Luncheon

Deputy Borough President Edward Burke

Deputy Borough President Edward Burke entertained and enlightened an audience of enthusiastic volunteers as the guest speaker at the Society’s School Reading Volunteer Honor Luncheon on Monday, June 18 at the Hilton Garden Inn. Mr. Burke, deputy to Borough President James Oddo, wears many hats, one of the newest as a children’s book author.

At the luncheon, more than 100 reading volunteers were recognized for their dedication to children and their hard work as tutors. School principals and local community leaders joined SIMHS administrators and staff in paying tribute to the volunteers.

Last year, the Society’s corps of school reading volunteers donated 18,000 hours tutoring more than 300 children at most of the borough’s public elementary schools.

PS 22 Chorus conducted by music teacher Gregg Breinberg (front with guitar) entertained guests. Deputy Borough President Burke and Society President Zagor can be seen behind the children.

The Luncheon kicked off with a “musical appetizer” of songs by the PS 22 chorus, under the direction of Gregg Breinberg. The nationally known chorus is a perennial and most popular entertainment fixture at School Reading Volunteer Program events.

Following  introductions by SIMHS President/CEO Fern Zagor and members of the agency’s Board of Directors, Mr. Burke stepped to the podium. The deputy, who has been in government service for 29 years, related his latest experience as a children’s book author and spoke about the importance of children’s literature as a focus of helping children learn to read.

His book, Groundhog Chuck Builds a Weather Station, published last year, features the Staten Island Zoo’s popular mascot and weather prognosticator Staten Island Chuck. Mr. Burke has explained that he penned the book for children who love animals and want to learn about the science of weather and how animals adapt to changing seasons and temperature variations.

Later in the event, reading volunteers were individually recognized for the longevity of their service.

The School Reading Volunteer Program, founded in 1960, will continue in the fall. For information on how to become a reading volunteer, call 718-442-2225.