The Scott Spino Foundation has been helping kids in Rochester learn to read since 2005. It all started after the tragic death of Spino, a teacher who was killed by a drunk driver.
Scott’s mom, Geri, is the driving force behind the program that keeps her son’s memory alive.
On the first Wednesday of every month, dozens of young readers are paired up with members of the community at School 22. People come in to read and help guide these young minds.
“Every first Wednesday of the month is like Christmas,” said first grade teacher, Yasmin Redding. “They look forward to the readers coming in. They get that one-on-one time with the readers. They even start asking them between reading books about their jobs. So they are bridging how this reading is going to help them down the line when they are adults.”
Geri Spino started the literacy program in honor of her son, who was killed by a drunk driver on Halloween back in 2004. Scott was a teacher at School 22 and loved helping kids.
“I want them to know that even though he is not here physically, he is in this building with them when we are here and they light up our lives,” said Geri.
During reading time, the hallways are filled with smiling faces. the first year they had 175 volunteers, now they have more than 300 volunteers each month.
“We are now in 17 schools through Rochester,” said Geri. “The need is huge and the smiles are huge and the excitement is over the top. So it’s a double edged happiness I guess you could say.”
“It helped them in the grieving process” said Redding. “And we win as well.”
The volunteers feel like they are winners too.
“It’s just fun the kids love to read,” said volunteer Mary McEntee. “I worked in a library for my first job and books are the basis for good education and good reading.”
It’s hard to believe this much good can come out of something so tragic.
“It makes me feel happy and sad at the same time,” said Gina. “The volunteers and kids make my heart sing with joy and then it’s sad because I am filling in a void and trying to keep the legacy of Scott alive.”
And she’s done an extraordinary job of making sure no one forgets her son.
“I am a mom who loved her son, and I am doing it out of love and that’s all,” she said.
Not only does the Scott Spino Foundation give away books and help kids with reading, they also collect coats, hats, and gloves for children in need. They now offer scholarships for some students as well.