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Volunteer pen pals help students develop skills

with Becky Koppen Retired Senior Volunteer Program Volunteer Coordinator for Hamilton County

December 4, 2014
Anne Blankenship ( ,

How did the pen pal program get started?

The Pen Pal Program was started locally by a third grade teacher who thought it would be a wonderful way to teach the process of letter writing to her students, by having them write to an older person in their community throughout the school year.

How many volunteers are involved?

Article Photos

Becky Koppen

At present, in Hamilton County there are 5 schools participating with RSVP in the Pen Pal Program-Webster City Middle School, St. Thomas Aquinas School, South Hamilton Elementary, Stratford Elementary, and Northeast Hamilton Elementary. There are over 160 Hamilton County RSVP volunteers serving as pen pals this year.

Can you describe some of the pen pal activities?

The students, ranging from third grade to fifth grade, write the first letter to their pen pals, and ask questions to get to know their senior pen pal. The RSVP pen pals respond as quickly as possible, and ask their own questions in return. The letters are sent at least once a month, and may include a birthday card, Christmas card, or post card, if the senior pen pal is traveling. At the end of the school year, the pen pals have a big party, and get to meet their correspondents face to face. There have been many instances where the relationship developed between the pen pals continues on throughout the student's years in school and beyond.

What benefits do the children and adults receive from the interactions?

End-of-the-year surveys are filled out by the students, and indicate that the great majority of the students feel that their writing skills have been improved through the Pen Pal Program.

Do you need more volunteers? If so, how does one become involved?

We are in the process of contacting RSVP volunteers for the Pen Pal Program, and would be happy to sign up new pen pals for this school year. Anyone interested in being a Pen Pal should contact RSVP Volunteer Coordinator Becky Koppen at 832-2525.



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