April is National Volunteer Month and at United Way, we are grateful to the thousands of volunteers helping to advance our mission to crush poverty in Erie County. Thank you for your commitment to lead by example and to LIVE UNITED!
Throughout the month of April, we will highlight a few volunteers. These exceptional and committed individuals have been recognized for their work by United Way's community school directors.
Shanna Potter, community school director at Harding Elementary, has had the good fortune of getting to know Mary Moodey (pictured above), a volunteer who began her work at Harding as a short-term Artist in Residence through Erie Arts & Culture. Shanna recently shared how Mary’s work in the artist residency program blossomed into two new weekly programs for students.
Shanna shared, "Mary Moodey has become our resident volunteer extraordinaire this year at Harding. Mary lives in the Harding neighborhood and just happens to be a published children's author and has a registered therapy dog, Rumi, through Therapy Dogs United. We initially met before school started about a short-term artist residency through Erie Arts and Culture. Mary was paired with fifth grade students for a writing and visual arts residency in the fall. As the weeks passed, our students evolved as talented poets and authors, while developing a close relationship with Mary."
Who Am I Poem by student Avery Acevedo
I am a rainbow parrot squawking under the bright sun.
I am the Grand Canyon leading a path, helping others find their way.
I am joy.
I am a shiny crystal in a dark cave.
I am Walter, an ordinary name many people do not have.
View the entire Who Am I Student Book
"Following her residency, Mary wanted to continue to share her time and talents with students at Harding. Lucky for us, Mary is now coming back to Harding two days a week for "Reading with Rumi" and one day a week for our after-school "Writer's Workshop", both for students in 3rd-5th grade."
Shanna went on, "Our 5th graders still find "Ms. Mary" when she is here at school for a hug or to share writing with her that they are working on independently. She has made so many incredible connections with our students. She is truly an asset to our school and a member of our Harding family. When I think about the community school model, it is people like Ms. Mary who help us achieve our mission of student success. Along with her therapy dog, Rumi, she is helping students develop and enhance their reading and writing skills, while becoming a trusted and caring adult in their lives. Mary has given our students and our school a gift that cannot be bought and we are so grateful for her."