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February 19, 2015

Gaby & Michelle's story: Overcoming Obstacles in Downtown LA

When Michelle, a third grader at Dolores Huerta Elementary in Downtown Los Angeles, was enrolled in Reading Partners in September 2012, she was reading at a second-grade level – a full year behind where she needed to be. In a school named after a civil rights leader who inspires passion, dedication, and fearlessness, there are too many students like Michelle who lack the self-confidence necessary to make them feel capable of great achievements.

Dolores Huerta, whose life was defined by the “insurmountable obstacles that led to unbelievable triumphs” is a role model for students at this school. And students need role models. But students like Michelle also need individual attention and this is where Michelle’s volunteer reading partner, Gaby, stepped in. A nursing student during the week and barista on weekends, Gaby was drawn to volunteering because it allows her to empower young people.

According to Gaby, “One of the most rewarding things was to watch Michelle’s reading improve week after week. Some days were tough but we kept working hard. The best part was watching her read out loud and seeing the joy it brought her. Her confidence improved and she had every right to proud. After all she did all the hard work!”

Thanks to Gaby’s help, Michelle ended the year reading at a fourth-grade level.

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