Laura Joshel, who has been coordinating the Read to Rover program at Salish Coast Elementary School for the past three years, is stepping down from this role. She did a wonderful job of revitalizing the Port Townsend program before the COVID shutdowns hit and has continued to contribute virtually with her dog, Chico, in the Zoom-based reading circles. Our thanks to Laura for her excellent volunteer leadership!
We are very pleased to announce that Donna Geer will serve as her replacement. Donna and her dog, Cooper, have been a Read to Rover team since the new Salish Coast School opened its doors to volunteers.
Here’s what Donna has to say about taking on the coordination of Salish Coast Read to Rover:
“I have always wanted to get more involved in this program and while no one can fill Laura’s shoes, I am hopeful that I can follow her footsteps and help the Read to Rover program get restarted for in-person reading this fall. It would be great to see all of our volunteer teams (and new ones, as well) back up at the school, listening to the second-graders as they read their books to our dogs, children with one hand turning a page while the other hand is petting the dog that’s intently (well, mostly) listening as the child reads out loud. Sometimes the dogs even comment on stories, in their own way, with their own vocalizations. Children love reading to the dogs and the dogs just love being with the kids. What a treat to witness!
“My husband Mike and I recently moved to Port Ludlow with our beagle Cooper. We have four children between us – five if you count Cooper – and three little grandsons. As you can probably guess, dogs take on a new significance when children are grown, so Cooper doesn’t know he’s a dog. In fact, he thinks he’s just one of the boys when our grandsons are visiting. I’m not sure I want to break the news to him, not just yet anyway. He’s really anxious to start the Read to Rover program again at Salish Coast Elementary School in Port Townsend this year. It was so much fun and honestly, I’m not sure who liked it better – me or Cooper. We love Read to Rover and did it for almost two years before we were sidelined due to COVID-19. We can’t wait to see all our friends at Salish Coast once the program starts again!
“I love volunteering and have spent the last few years trying different opportunities after retiring from a career at Boeing as a senior operations manager and a contracts manager for airplane interiors. Prior to that, I was a senior project manager at Arrow Electronics for large banking computer systems. I spent years in the contracting arena for the Air Force purchasing airplane components and one of my earliest jobs was driving a forklift, moving landing gear parts from one building to another. I was also in the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard building bombs and conducting radar surveillance. Along the way, I snuck in college classes here and there, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree in Business and later an MBA and a professional coaching certification. I couldn’t have done it without my family’s support, as almost all of us can attest to. Good things are never done alone. Once I retired, I went back to school to do something really fun and got a Multimedia degree, which has kept me busy taking photos and creating videos. Now I work part-time at Peninsula College in Port Angeles as an advisor to veteran students. Each time I’ve changed careers, I’ve learned so much.
“In the end, however, what gets me up in the morning is volunteering because it’s something I can do that’s fun for me, uses skills acquired through the years, and hopefully makes a difference in our communities. Isn’t that why we all volunteer? I feel so fortunate that I get to do great things like that. I currently volunteer with Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County as a Grief Support Facilitator, running 6-week grief support sessions throughout the year. When I first started volunteering, it was with the Olympic Medical Center as a greeter and with my husband’s help, I also started the Novel Conversations Book Club in Sequim for the North Olympic Library System. And of course, you’ve heard about Read to Rover!
“It’s all been great fun, so if your dog is looking for a volunteer opportunity and you wouldn’t mind coming along for support, we could sure use you! If you and your pup are interested, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re still figuring out what it will look like this fall, but it’s never too early to raise your hand, or paw, to express your interest. Thanks so much for your support and we’re hoping to hear from you very soon!”