Volunteer Spotlight – Jim Cunningham

Introducing Jim Cunningham

“I want to share the joy of this gift with others!” – Jim Cunningham

The quote above was Jim’s answer to, ‘Why do you want to help someone improve their reading and writing?’ And for over three years he shared his gift through volunteering with Partners in Reading until his recent passing.

Jim was a dedicated volunteer who worked with two learners. He was most notable for his consistent and concerted effort to stay up-to-date on the materials that would most help his learners succeed. This was a big challenge as the needs of Jim’s first learner and the needs of his second learner were very different. Then he was hit with the COVID curveball and had to adjust to remote tutoring! Jim rolled with all the changes and always did his very best to serve his learners. He was conscientious in reporting his hours and regularly attended Partners in Reading (PAR) tutor support meetings.

From a conversation with Jim’s last learner, Dolores:

Jim was a wonderful tutor in our program. He and his learner had a great partnership together. She said they shared a lot together about their lives because they had a lot in common. Jim worked very hard to make sure that she learned quickly. He wanted to make her feel comfortable speaking so that she could learn and not feel bad about making mistakes. When they worked on reading, he helped her a lot with pronunciation. Jim was always kind and patient.

A staff member remembers his dedication:

Jim was always looking for ways to improve his tutoring sessions with Dolores. He attended tutor support meetings and learned new tech. Even though he was not comfortable with new technology, he made a point to learn how to use Zoom to keep himself and Dolores safe while continuing his lessons. He was thoughtful, kind, and wanted to make a difference.

It is not surprising that Jim’s first question for PAR was: “It has been 30 years since I practiced phonics with my kids. Will PAR guide me on how to do this again?”

Pre-COVID, Jim would visit the PAR office regularly to look for materials that were on point for his learner’s needs. His positive attitude and calm demeanor was always welcome. Working with Jim was a genuine pleasure and he will be greatly missed.