I began volunteering with SMART when it first started in Cottage Grove, sometime in the late 1990’s. My wife, Jean, started just a few years after I did – we’ve been doing it together ever since. Cottage Grove is a small community, so we’ve been able to see the kids we read with grow over the years. One of the first students I read with is now a senior in high school! It’s really something to see a young person’s sense of self-worth improve when they become confident readers. Knowing that the time we share with the kids makes a real difference, and the feeling of community we experience through being volunteers is what keeps us coming back each year!