United Way of Paducah-McCracken County now training Reading PALS for 2019-20 school year

Photo from United Way’s website

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY — For nine years, 150 people in our area have mentored students from elementary to high school age through the United Way of Paducah-McCracken County’s Reading PALS program.

PALS stands for promoting academics and leadership in schools.

They are looking for more volunteers to help impact more students’ lives. Community Impact Manager Anne Bidwell said you never know how you will influence a young mind.

“(One volunteer) started to realize when she ate with her student, her student started paying attention,” Bidwell said. “The adult was eating salads, and every time the child went through (the lunch line) she would also get a salad. The volunteer was telling me she thought she was maybe being a healthy role model when it came to healthy eating, and that’s not something we even anticipated in the program.”

Photo from United Way’s website

Bidwell said the program is a 30-minute to one-hour commitment one day a week, usually during breakfast or lunch at the school. The program works with schools in the county and city.

They do background checks on all volunteers. Volunteer orientation is going on through August. To learn more about the program and sign up for a training and orientation, click here.

Bidwell said the schools choose the students that are involved with the program. Sometimes students may need help in a specific subject or they may just need a pal.

“Sometimes they choose a student that can really use a friend for whatever reason. Maybe they’re a new student to school,” she said. “It doesn’t matter who the student is. Every child, and every adult even, we all want to have someone special that shows up just for them.”