VOLUNTEER OF THE WEEK: The Rev. Beth Palmer helps bridge educational gaps

Published 8:00 am Sunday, March 20, 2022

This week’s Vicksburg Post Volunteer of the Week is the Rev. Beth Palmer, who volunteers with the United Way of West Central Mississippi in  The Post-COVID Educational Enhancement Program.

The Post-COVID Educational Enhancement Program utilizes a curriculum from Voyager Passport, a comprehensive K-5 supplemental reading intervention program, to train individuals to become academic guides to be able to support students through high-dosage, small-group tutoring. Palmer moved to Vicksburg from Virginia with her husband in June 2012 to serve as rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity. She retired from that position in July 2018 but continues to serve three Sundays a month at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in  Vicksburg. Palmer said she loves to weave, spin, knit and travel. She also enjoys water aerobics, yoga and golf. Palmer said that she cannot remember a time in her adult life when she was not volunteering in some way.

How did you hear about the Post-COVID Educational Enhancement Program?

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During my time at Holy Trinity, I worked closely with Michele Connelly and United Way of West Central Mississippi, as they were our neighbors. Connelly invited me to serve on the Community Investment Panel in 2016 and I continue to serve with that group. Several times I asked Connelly if I could “do something with children.” That request was answered last autumn with the Post-COVID Educational Enhancement Program, or Voyager.

How long have you been volunteering?

Since November 2021, I have worked with up to five children at the YMCA using Voyager to help improve their reading skills. 

What are some of your jobs in the Post-COVID Educational Enhancement Program?

We gather four days a week at 4 p.m. to review reading concepts, learn vocabulary words and read together. 

What is your favorite memory while volunteering?

At Christmas, I shared one of my favorite books with them: “The Polar Express,” by Chris Van Allsburg. I was delighted when, after the Christmas break, one of the children reported back about her own experience with the Polar Express. I love working with these children and have learned more from them than they have learned from me.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering?

My advice to anyone considering volunteering is to jump in and enjoy the ride. There are bound to be some delightful surprises along the way, no matter how much you may think you know what to expect. Our community needs you to volunteer in some way. Look around and find out where your own passions meet our community’s greatest needs.

If there is a volunteer who should be featured, please submit their name and contact information to volunteer@vicksburgpost.com.