WITS incorporates positive reading experiences into the lives of Chicago public schools students. At the heart of each WITS program are the committed volunteers, who contribute their time and energy to build relationships with these students, giving the literacy support they need to develop a passion for reading.
Through the Workplace Mentoring program, students meet after-school with caring volunteers from corporate offices to practice reading aloud and receive homework help. Maria Seimenis, lead-volunteer from Deloitte, reflected on her experience as a literacy mentor and shared insights on why Deloitte partners with WITS.
Why is it important for Deloitte employees to give back to the community? How does WITS make it easy for Deloitte employees to do this?
Deloitte is committed to giving back to the community where we live and work. We feel we are very fortunate and we want to give back to and share with others. WITS makes it easy for us because it is held in the Chicago Deloitte office! Not only is it a great opportunity for us as volunteers but it a great way to expose these children to a workplace environment.
How does the work of WITS align with Deloitte’s values and contribute to their corporate citizenship?
Deloitte is dedicated to education and we know that education often starts with literacy. WITS is directly aligned to our commitment to education as part of our corporate citizen strategy.
How has WITS been a positive experience for Deloitte Volunteers? Why do you volunteer with WITS on an individual level?
It’s positive in so many ways, but the fact that we have the ability to make a difference and make a direct impact in children’s lives is particularly rewarding. Especially for those who may not be as fortunate as we are. Seeing the smiles on the children’s faces alone is worth it. It is a simple reminder that, while work is important and meaningful, there is so much more that we can be doing to help the community. I volunteer with WITS for all of these reasons and because I enjoy the personal connections and relationships I build with the students week after week, year after year.
What is your favorite part about Deloitte’s partnership with WITS?
I like that we are able to offer our students the time, the mentorship, the conversations, etc. that they may not be offered otherwise. I also like that we can provide them with books as gifts. What a fantastic way to open up a child’s imagination and engage them in a positive way! It is also a great reason to step out of my meetings for an hour each week!
What are your favorite memories as a mentor with WITS?
There are a few fond memories that I have but my favorite is of the WITS Halloween party we held in the Deloitte office in 2014. The students arrived dressed up and we read Halloween books and ate candy! And I dressed up as the Incredible Hulk, which everyone found quite amusing. Additionally, coincidentally, we had a Deloitte event and we invited the kids to join us in a panel discussion. So much fun.
Maria’s enthusiasm about WITS and her memories with students are shared by the passionate and dedicated mentors who attend Workplace Mentoring each week. The students from Chavez Elementary Multicultural Academy have built trusting relationships with their mentors and continue grow as readers. WITS appreciates the continued impact created through partnership with Deloitte.