In2Books was created in 1997 to enhance the intellectually stimulating work available to students in low-income neighborhoods. In2Books promotes ambitious literacy learning in grades 2-5 by having students engage in authentic reading and writing experiences with adult pen pals. The pen pal experience is complemented by the classroom study of genre and genre-related literacy.
With her two kids at an independent age, Mahesh decided that she wanted to give back but wasn't quite sure how.
"I started looking at local shelters and organizations but wasn't able to decide,"she says. "I decided to surf the net and found VolunteerMatch."
Mahesh signed up to receive Opportunity Alert Emails, which kept her updated about opportunities in her area that matched her interests.
"Finally, I found the perfect activities that accommodated my busy work schedule and home life," she says.
The first of these opportunities to fit her busy schedule was with an organization called In2Books, which pairs adult mentors with children to read and discuss books via email and letters.
"I loved each and every letter that I received from my eight year old pen pal," Mahesh says. "I am an avid reader and I would recommend this for everyone who loves to read." It doesn't take much. You can do this at your own time from anywhere where you can have a computer."
More recently, Mahesh has taken on another volunteer project that connects her with a whole different set of people. With the Board of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB), an organization that offers services to visually impaired persons throughout the state of Connecticut. Mahesh provides support services to a visually impaired woman in her community.
"I shop for her, label her CDs, pick up food for her, and most important sit and talk with her," says Gayatri. "Just seeing her face light up when I give her a hug or cut up some apples for her is indescribable."
And though Mahesh spends just two hours each week helping, the time spent has been of tremendous value to both women.
"She needed a confidante and a friend and she has expressed that she found it in me. That makes me feel very special."
For someone like Mahesh, with a ton of things already on her plate, volunteering could potentially squeeze the already precious free time that she has. But she looks at things a bit differently.
"I had reached a point in my life where I felt extreme gratitude and felt blessed," she says. "In a world where every action is driven by some materialistic satisfaction, I experience gratification by knowing that I was able to spend my time to enhance the quality of someone else's life instead of watching TV."