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NEWS | Nov. 18, 2014

Volunteer spirit 'REACHes' out to local community

By Airman 1st Class Breonna Veal 633rd Air Base wing Public Affairs

United States Air Force Airmen are encouraged to have a well-balanced lifestyle, including volunteering, excelling at work or furthering their education. One Joint Base Langley-Eustis Airman exemplifies this standard is by volunteering for the Reading Enriches All Children (REACH) Program, and acts as a liaison between the program and Langley-based volunteers.

REACH is a volunteer organization that supports the literacy needs of homeless and at-risk children living in shelters throughout the South Hampton Roads community in Virginia. Through our Shelter Read Aloud Program, volunteers spend time with the children in shelters reading and doing a support activity. 

Airman 1st Class Bradley Simmons, 1st Maintenance Squadron ammunitions technician, Simmons has been volunteering with the REACH program for eight months and is the Langley Air Force Base reading team leader.

"As team leader, I recruit volunteers for the REACH program," said Simmons. "I also manage the volunteers and their schedules for readings which occur each Wednesday evening at each shelter.  I also arrange training for the newest volunteers, which helps them have a better understanding on how to interact with families in shelters to ensure their privacy."

REACH uses a team approach to reading; volunteers are assigned to a team that will take responsibility for one specific night each month. Military members assigned to Langley Air Force Base get assigned to the Langley team.

REACH reads at 10 shelters, three different nights each week, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday. The REACH Program requires a commitment of one session per month for each team, for at least six months. 

The REACH Program only has two full-time employees who, in turn, partner with ten shelters around the Hampton Roads area, including Williamsburg. Each week, there are eight to ten readings, creating a large load of work for two employees.

"Since there are only two employees at REACH, it helps us reach [out to] the community in ways we wouldn't be able to if it weren't for volunteers such as A1C Simmons," said Leslie Clarridge, REACH Program volunteer and program coordinator, is glad to have Simmons on her team. "Because of volunteers and the Langley Air Force Base reading team, our impact on the community has a greater potential."

For more information about the REACH program or to volunteer, contact Leslie Clarridge at 627-4722 or visit