FLORHAM PARK, NJ - The RSVP Center of Essex and Hudson Counties is thrilled to announce the launch of its Reading Buddies program which will connect volunteers age 55+ with elementary school students in Essex County.

Reading Buddies seeks to introduce the love of books and increase the literacy of young children.  Early literacy is linked with academic achievement, higher graduation rates and enhanced productivity in adult life. Rebecca Silverstein, Program Manager of RSVP, comments "Reading Buddies is a unique program that connects children and volunteers through the love of reading. The older adults read to the children every week within the classroom setting."  The program has shown to be very effective in helping to increase literacy, reading comprehension and understanding in children ages K-2.

Reading Buddies is actively seeking volunteers interested in spending one hour per week reading books to elementary school students at the Mount Pleasant School in West Orange, the Lincoln Avenue School in Orange and the South Mountain Elementary School in South Orange/Maplewood.  We are continuing to expand our list of participating schools.  If you are 55 or older and interested in learning more about becoming a Reading Buddies volunteer,  please contact Rebecca Silverstein at 973-637-1761 or rsilverstein@jfsmetrowest.org.

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The Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Center for Essex and Hudson Counties is sponsored by Jewish Family Services of MetroWest New Jersey and in collaboration with the United Way of Hudson County.  It is funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) as part of Senior Corps.  RSVP, established in 1971, is one of the largest volunteer networks in the nation for people 55 and over with 269,000 volunteers across the nation.  RSVP taps the rich experience, skills and talents of adults age 55+ to meet the needs and challenges of local communities all across America by placing volunteers in local agencies.

Jewish Family Service of MetroWest is a comprehensive social service agency providing mental health counseling and support services on a non-discriminatory basis.  With a presence in the community since 1861, JFS today delivers an expanding number of programs to increasing numbers of people. For children and families, JFS provides individual, couple, child and family counseling, play therapy, support groups, school and synagogue based social work services, family life education and other assistance needed to support healthy families. Rachel Coalition, a division of JFS, provides domestic violence services for all members of the family affected by domestic violence. JFS also offers a wide range of services for older adults and their families including case management services, counseling, caregiver education, volunteer friendly visitors and specialized programs for Holocaust survivors.  For more information, please call (973) 765-9050 or visit www.jfsmetrowest.org.