As you know, the South Boston Clubhouse of the Boys & Girls Club of Boston was completely renovated last year. It reopened its (new) doors last year, after 12 months of construction and limited club activities. The reading program, which had to be curtailed during the construction, is back. In its colorfully decorated new reading room, it is better than ever.

South Boston Online interviewed three people at the Clubhouse this week – Charlie Cardillo, reading coach/assistant reading team leader; Phil Waters, volunteer reading coach coordinator; and Kathryn Klister, director of volunteer management at Generations, Incorporated.

Much credit is due to the reading coaches, who voluntarily commit a few hours per week to working with young club members. Their youthful readers are in the first, second or third grade; the coaches take it upon themselves to expand the reading comprehension of their young friends. The time spent each week can vary, but usually consists of two after-school sessions at the Clubhouse – 2:30 to 5 p.m., either Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday.

The South Boston Clubhouse now has eight volunteer reading coaches. There’s a waiting list for the reading program, so between four and six more reading coaches are needed. It’s “easy liftin’” as they say, as well as being extremely gratifying. Phil Waters told us how she wanted to find a “giving back” activity when she retired. As a reading coach, she established a warm relationship with the children she coached. “It was a real eye-opener,” Waters said.

Charlie Cardillo, who is from Weymouth and also assists reading team leader Christine Holley, spoke of how attached he becomes to each of his readers, whom he coaches throughout their school year. He spends his 30-40 minute coaching sessions one-on-one with each reader, developing a closeness with his young charges and a true feeling of accomplishment as the school year progresses.

The Clubhouse Reading Program is not simply reading to the children. It is a structured learning program that is taught to the reading coaches, so they can be as effective as possible in guiding their readers. And to repeat, becoming a reading coach is extremely gratifying. If you have afternoons free during the school year – retired persons are ideal for this kind of volunteer effort – please plan to attend an information session at the Clubhouse on Sixth Street on Tuesday, Jan. 26, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

The Boston agency that provides the reading program to our Boys & Girls Club is Generations, Incorporated. According to Director of Volunteer Management Kathryn Klister, Generations, Inc., has 260 reading coaches in 21 programs from Boston to Revere. They are affiliated with AARP’s Experience Corps, where they obtain their reading programs.

If you will forgive a bit of name-dropping, as a reading coach, you’ll get to work with books written by folksinger Pete Seeger, prize-winning author Maya Angelou, and the irrepressible Dr. Seuss. Who knows? As a reading coach, you could become so interested that you’ll read the Reading Room’s books on your own.

Please reserve Tuesday, Jan. 26, from 1 to 2:30 p.m., for a Reading Coach Information Session. Then think about becoming a Reading Coach at the Boys & Girls South Boston Clubhouse. It’s a very rewarding thing to take on.


Phil Waters, Charlie Cardillo, and Kathryn Klister stand by the alpine mural in the reading room of the Boys & Girls Club on Sixth Street.


A strategy meeting among reading coaches in the Reading Room of the Boys & Girls Club of South Boston.


Recognition for effective reading: a picture of each child drawn and colored by him or herself, with decorative stickers indicating books read.


A poetic saying by that quintessential children’s writer and illustrator, Dr. Seuss (aka Theodor Seuss Geisel), on the wall of the reading room.