Amanda Dalnodar, founder and chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based Brew City Marketing, has developed a passion for early childhood literacy by volunteering with Next Door.
Dalnodar was searching for an opportunity that would allow her marketing firm staff to serve the community when she found the nonprofit early childhood provider’s efforts to promote reading at a young age.
“Our business was getting more established and I just felt the need to give back,” Dalnodar said. “I also work with a lot of young professionals and I felt it was important to show them by example that working hard is very important, but also giving back to the community is what brings happiness and helps you lead a more balanced life.”
Dalnodar signed up to volunteer with Next Door’s “Community Read with Me” events, during which children spend time reading one-on-one with community volunteers.
“I was just searching online and I have a two- and three-year-old,” Dalnodar said. “When I found the Read with Me program, it just resonated with me because I have young children. I learned, through reading the website, how important it is to engage children early by reading and talking with them.”
Research indicates the amount of access children have to books is a major predictor of their first grade reading achievement and long-term success in school.
“Exposing children to books and reading is so critical in the early years because their brains are developing so rapidly at this time,” said Tracey Sparrow, president of Next Door. “Through early exposure to literacy, the children begin to build an understanding of what a book is, how it works and how much joy reading can bring to their life.”
In addition to volunteering with the Read with Me events, Dalnodar has hosted book drives through Brew City Marketing and lent a hand during the organization’s book cleaning events to restore used books for children in Milwaukee.
“I enjoy feeling like I’m part of the solution, that my little part is helping a small child and their family,” Dalnodar said. “And it’s also helped me want to read more to my kids because I’ve learned about the benefits.”
Meanwhile, extending the opportunity for her employees to also volunteer has been important for embedding the company in the community it serves.
“I think employees really appreciate it and when they do come out, they say it was the best day,” she said. “We’re a small group and everybody that works for us plays a big role, so it’s hard to want to step away from the desk, but when they do, it’s one of the most memorable days of the year for them.”