Ashley Turner, Kristy Reed and Amanda Haggerty all work for Jackson Purchase Energy in western Kentucky. The three have something else in common: all volunteer with the PALS mentoring program.
PALS—Promoting Academics and Leadership in Schools—pairs a child with an adult for about 30 minutes a week, with the goal of giving the child extra help with reading, math or leadership skills at no cost every week during the school year.
Kristy, an engineer with Jackson Purchase Energy, knew about PALS because she had seen the impact of the program personally. Her daughter Abbie had a PALS volunteer for reading, starting in the second grade.
“PALS gave Abbie extra encouragement to read and learn about things,” says Kristy. “(Her mentor) got to know us and our family. She would do something special for our daughter on her birthday and took her to movies from books they had read. She would buy her new books. Her ‘pal’ encouraged reading on a different level.”
Kristy herself has been a PALS math mentor to Khloe for two years. The pairs remain together for the entire time the child participates in the program, coordinated by the United Way of Paducah–McCracken County in 13 city and county schools.
“Sometimes we do math facts,” Kristy says. “Other times we might talk about what she has done in math that week. We work on things like a big times-table chart.”
The adults benefit as well, says Ashley, manager of member services for Jackson Purchase Energy.
“I love my ‘pal,’” Ashley says. “Macey is awesome. I thought about the benefits for the child when I volunteered. I thought it would be great if she could get better at reading or being a student. I didn’t realize it would be beneficial to me, but I look forward to seeing her each week and seeing her progress. It doesn’t take much of your time, but the impact you make on a child’s life is significant.”