Build a backpack, grow a reader …

By Ellen Cooke

Going back to school can be stressful enough. Imagine not being able to afford the supplies you need – or a backpack. Some Downstate NY employees helped turn that reality around for inner city schoolkids when they volunteered for a day of service to support United Way of New York City’s ReadNYC initiative – which aims to improve reading levels by filling those backpacks, from an early age on.

NY Jurisdiction Community & Customer Management (C&CM) Manager Terry Yarde brought a team together from various customer groups across NYC because “I have three children of my own –  two in middle school and one in elementary. I know that reading is going to take them to the next level and it’s a passion of mine too. United Way events are always such a rewarding way to give back to our communities.”

Working through our Power to Serve employee volunteer program, Terry named captains and coordinators for the event from the MetroTech Customer Assistance Center (CAC), Canarsie, Greenpoint and Staten Island – who sorted supplies and stuffed more than 200 backpacks, donated by departments and yards in DNY.

CAC Team Lead Michelle Menke coordinated supplies collection on the 13th floor of MetroTech, saying, “Each one of those bags represents setting a student on the right path and I helped get them started.”

C&CM Analyst Christina Gueli adds, “It makes me happy to see how big a difference a few hours of work – and some small steps – can make when it comes to impacting change across our boroughs, and increasing reading levels and education as a whole.”

Fellow volunteer for the day, CC&M Lead Program Manager Andrew Barnes is happy our company “supports volunteer efforts and makes it so easy to participate. When you think about what we do at National Grid, we serve the needs of our customers. United Way of NYC does the same for our community, addressing education and basic life skills.”

Kudos to these employees for working together to empower young readers – deserving children living in some of NYC’s most challenged communities!

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