What Audrey Saw...

Our Princeton Project 55 Fellow and Regional Program Coordinator reports from the field

Since July 1st, Princeton graduate Audrey Li has been traveling across the city, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley, visiting Reach Out and Read program sites.  She’s our new Regional Program Coordinator through the Princeton Alumni Associations’ Project 55 Fellowship.

Conceived at Princeton by the Class of 1955 who made it their mission to engage alumni to work in the public interest, the program has placed over 1,300 recent graduates since 1989 in yearlong fellowships with organizations that address critical social needs.

Here’s a glimpse at what Audrey has seen so far…

As the Regional Program Coordinator, I split my time between the office and our 191 sites. In the time I’ve been here, I’ve already seen a spectrum of health centers—from the small community health clinics to the large hospital powerhouses.

A typical site visit consists of me walking through the health center, with stops in the waiting area, book storage area, and examination rooms. I often find that the best part of the visit is seeing how the coordinators and providers at the site are so engaged with children and their parents.

Regardless of size or structure of the clinic, it’s been obvious to me that everybody involved cares deeply about providing the best for their patients, including  taking the time to speak with parents about the importance of reading with their children, and how that affects brain development.

At a recent visit to Lutheran HealthCare Sunset Park Family Health Center, I learned about their Reach Out and Read Quality Improvement project, which doubled the number of parents reading with their children regularly!  They have volunteers reading with kids, and the doctors there are all really enthusiastic about Reach Out and Read. It’s inspiring to meet with health care providers and program coordinators, like the ones at Lutheran, who work tirelessly every day against often difficult situations to make early childhood literacy a part of their practice.

Throughout my four years at Princeton, the importance of “serving”—that is, having a responsibility to engage with and give to the larger community—has been impressed upon me again and again.  I see my work with Reach Out and Read of Greater New York through the Princeton Project 55 Fellowship as an unparalleled opportunity to work on issues of social equity and community development.

As someone who will one day practice in medicine, to see the passion of Reach Out and Read coordinators and providers is always inspiring!

Above: Audrey Li (center) with Dara Wedel (left) and Aleida Kasir (right) of the Lutheran Family Health Centers – www.LutheranFamilyHealthCenters.org.

Copyright 2019 Reach Out And Read Greater New York