stephen mcgarry photoStephen McGarry of Gold Canyon, Arizona, is a former CEO of a distribution company in Rhode Island. When he retired in January 2013, he moved to Arizona and began looking for volunteer opportunities. That’s when a newspaper ad for the Experience Corps got his attention.

“When my children were younger, I coached sports teams all the way from little league to high school,” says McGarry. “I had always loved working with children. Seeing the ad about volunteering with Experience Corps seemed serendipitous, so I set up a meeting with its program coordinator, Rebecca Bond.”

The Experience Corps is a tutoring program for children aged first through third grade. Through the program, older adults spend 5 hours a week at local schools helping children improve their literacy skills.

“McGarry travels over 30 miles each way twice a week,” says Rebecca Bond, Experience Corps Project Coordinator. “His energy is infectious and his relationship with first graders is a joy to watch.”

Last Christmas, McGarry even dressed up as Santa Claus and visited classrooms at the school he tutors at.

“I had this old Santa suit and I thought it would be fun to go see the children,” says McGarry. “I went to all of the first grade classrooms, the gym, and outside to the pick-up area at the end of the day. My wife and I handed out over 300 candy canes. The kids really enjoyed it and so did I.”

McGarry’s favorite part of volunteering with Experience Corps is the children’s expressions. “When I see the children’s faces light up I know that I’m making a difference,” says McGarry. “If a child never learns how to read that can have very negative retributions later in life. My job is to not only teach them how to read but to make it fun. I love volunteering with this program and would recommend it to anyone.”

For more information on the Experience Corps, please visit the website. Want more information on volunteering? Click here.