RWO's December 2017 Edition

Page 160


GERI SPINO…..The Volunteer That Never Stops BY REBECCA JAFFARIAN

When I first met Geri Spino it was during her volunteer work as a Board Member for another local non profit agency. She worked tirelessly and devoted endless hours planning a walk, coordinating a monthly sewing group, chairing a pasta dinner while still managing her own non profit organization. Why? Because that’s just who Geri Spino is. She’s the Energizer Bunny with a heart of gold. When interviewed, Geri mentioned Jackie Waldman author of “The Courage to Give”. The Courage to Give, tells 30 stories of people who have had something happen to them physically and/or emotionally, yet when they started helping others, their lives changed miraculously. Waldman recommends starting simple and small – you don’t have to begin an organization, just try volunteering once a month. “If you can just put your own stuff aside for a moment – that’s the courage.” On October 31, 2004, a repeat drunk driver took the life of Geri’s son Scott. The driver of the car was 23, had two prior DWI convictions. He had no license, yet still chose to drive, while intoxicated. He pleaded guilty to one count of firstdegree vehicular manslaughter, and two counts of driving under the influence. Scott was a vibrant, twenty-eight year old young man and cherished son. He was a respected and admired teacher and coach in the Rochester City School District. He was good natured, kind, giving, sincere. He lived life wanting to make a difference in the lives of each child and player he coached. He repeatedly stated to his students and players that he only wanted them to succeed. Scott’s contribution to those whose lives he touches were visibly recognized through the course of his funeral. There were thousands that attended and many more that shared their grief with cards, notes, flowers, donations, hugs, and tears. For one young man to make such a difference in the lives of others is truly a statement of how he lives his life. The Scott Spino Foundation was established in 2005. The mission of 160


the Scott Spino Foundation is to focus on supporting programs that provide education, coaching and mentoring to children within our community. Investing in today’s youth enhancing tomorrow’s future. What role does the Scott Spino Foundation play in our community? The Foundation’s Literacy & Warm Program plays a necessary role. Each month over 200 volunteers take time out of their day to read to children in 19 schools throughout the community. After the reading session each child is given a new copy of the book to take home with them to reach over and over again as well as share with their family. Scott Spino Literacy Program The mission of the Literacy Program is to increase students’ access to literature. With this access, the Foundation has seen an enhancement in

the students reading skills, an improvement in their word recognition, and the beginning or expansion of their home library. The program has been designed to open the students’ imagination to the world of reading, instilling a love of the written word. This mission is accomplished by pairing students with adults who care enough to share their fluent literacy skills, and who embrace the idea of “today a reader tomorrow a leader.” The program consists of more than 200 volunteers. Our volunteers read one on one with an assigned student from grades Kindergarten through first grade. The volunteers attend the program one day each month. Each month, the volunteers are asked to purchase one or two books to read with their student. At the end of the monthly visit, the student gets to keep the book(s), to enjoy again or to share with a friend or family member. The Foundation also sponsors a monthly Volunteer Reader. The Volunteer Reader reads to one entire class of Kindergarten students. Through our Keeping Kids Warm Program we provide brand new winter coats to 1,200 children in need each year helping to improve their selfconfidence, peer acceptance, school attendance, and overall wellness. The true meaning of the holiday spirit is captured each year in the smiling faces of the children in the Rochester City School District, Greece Central School District, Henrietta, Holley, Kendall, and Gates. What makes the Scott Spino Foundation successful? The Foundation is successful first and foremost because of love and respect our friends and family have for our beloved son Scott. Our son was needlessly taken from us due to a repeat drunk driver. He lived his life making the choice to always help a friend or make a difference in the life of a child. Now our friends and his have made the choice for the past 14 years to consistently support, donate their time and money to help us carry on Scott Legacy of love to make a difference in the life of a

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