Wayne Wood Named Outstanding Senior Volunteer

by Shawn Deiter

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Volunteers are a valuable resource for Lehigh Valley Children’s Centers. One generous volunteer, a member of the Kiwanis Club of Allentown Northeast for over 50 years, has made Fridays a special treat for the preschoolers attending LVCC on Union Boulevard in Allentown.

Wayne Wood has been a visiting reader to our preschool classroom for the past ten years. When the children hear Mr. Wood is coming, they get very excited. They have two or three books waiting for him to read. When he arrives, they sit on the carpet circling the only grown up chair in the room. Mr. Wood, smiling, calmly sits in the chair and talks to the children about their day or their families. A young girl hands him the first of many books and story time begins. As the story progresses, Mr. Wood periodically stops to ask questions and the children enthusiastically guess about the plot or characters. Once Mr. Wood finishes reading all the books, the children gather around for goodbye hugs.

When asked why he volunteers with the children, Mr. Wood replies, “When I worked, I couldn’t spend as much time with my three children as I would have liked. Now that I am retired and my grandkids are grown, I enjoy the company. I get a kick out of the kids.”

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LVCC’s preschool teacher, Kathleen Ryan-Travis, nominated Mr. Wood for the Northampton County Area Agency on Aging’s Outstanding Senior Award. He won in the Intergenerational Award category. The Area Agency on Aging presented Mr. Wood with his award at a ceremony on April 26.

“The children love when Mr. Wood visits,” Ms. Ryan-Travis said. “He’s like a sweet, kind grandfather to the kids, especially for those who don’t have a positive male role-model in their lives. When the elementary-school children come back to our summer program and see him, they can’t wait to talk to him. They remember him from all the years of reading to the preschoolers.”

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Mr. Wood shared one of his favorite stories from visiting the preschool classroom throughout the years. The young boys and girls saw Mr. Wood’s hearing aids in his ears. As is the inquisitive nature of children, they had a barrage of questions. They wanted to know what the hearing aids were.

“So I can hear you better,” Mr. Wood explained. “One little girl walked up close to me, pulled my head down and yelled into my ear, ‘Can you hear me now?’”

Mr. Wood shared his philosophy of taking life one day at a time and making the best out of what we are given.

“We all have gifts to offer,” Mr. Wood said. “My gift is to read to the three- and four-year old children. I enjoy making their eyes widen with curiosity and answering their inquisitive questions.”

We have a decade of children who would agree. Wayne Wood has truly been a gift to Lehigh Valley Children’s Centers. We are grateful for his time and dedication to helping children succeed.