E. Bay literacy program pairs Rossmoor tutors with grade-school students

The East Bay Jewish Coalition for Literacy has partnered with Rossmoor, a retirement center in Walnut Creek, to initiate the “Generation to Generation” tutoring project. During the 2003-2004 school year, volunteers from Rossmoor will travel each week to Cambridge Elementary School in Concord to serve as one-on-one tutors for students from kindergarten through third grade.

Originally piloted in Cincinnati as an initiative of the Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Foundation, the program matches seniors with children in an educational setting.

Emma Mayerson, the granddaughter of Manuel D. Mayerson, has brought the program to the East Bay, where it is housed at the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay.

Through her close relationship with her grandfather, she learned the importance of passing down wisdom from seniors to youth.

“It’s an amazing experience to have someone who has lived such a long life come into the classroom,” she said. “It really reinforces the importance of education and learning to students.”

Now in 10th grade at Berkeley High School, Emma Mayerson has been an active JCL tutor and volunteer since 2000. The East Bay program, affiliated with the National Jewish Coalition for Literacy, brings together volunteers from the Jewish and general community to help address the national illiteracy crisis.

The program made such an impact on Mayerson’s life that now she is helping to initiate programs and recruit volunteers. “I looked forward to tutoring every week,” she said. “It felt good to know that someone really counted on me every week to be there for them.”

Mayerson has taken the original “Generations” program and tailored it to JCL’s curriculum, creating a program in which seniors tutor one student for an hour every week.

“Having tutors meet with the same student each week makes for a more comfortable learning atmosphere, especially when classroom sizes are so large and teachers may not be able to give extra help to students,” said Shirley Feldman, JCL East Bay director.

JCL in the East Bay is recruiting volunteers for “Generations” as well as for its other ongoing programs. To volunteer or for more information, contact Shirley Feldman at (510) 839-2900, ext. 272.

JCL also has programs elsewhere in the Bay Area. To volunteer in the San Francisco area, call (415) 957-1551, and in the South Bay, call (650)-940-1225.