Margie Jean Pino Hobby grew up in a small town in New Mexico and worked all her life until she retired in 2000. By that time Margie had been widowed for more than 4 years. She wanted to stay active and connected with her peers, rather than isolating herself in this new stage of life, so she began taking classes with OASIS and volunteering with a variety of local organizations.
"I love working with children and I wanted to help a child do better in school,” Margie reached out to her friends on Facebook and learned about the OASIS tutoring program
Soon after training for the OASIS program, Margie was paired with Vera, a quiet child for whom English was a second language. A Lebanese immigrant, Vera felt rejected by her schoolmates because she was different, and because her English wasn’t yet good. Compounding these difficulties, she was separated from her father and missed him terribly. Vera was kind and polite, but was quiet and at times, seemed sad.
“The first time we got together, I took her a little book for a gift. She liked it but kind of hung her her head and said, ‘I don’t have anything for you.’ I told her she didn’t need to bring me anything, but next time I saw her darned if she didn’t bring me 4 or 5 home-baked cookies from her mama’s kitchen!” Margie recalled with a laugh.
The two soon became friends and Margie worked with Vera to help her learn about friendship and how to cope with missing her father through the stories and books that they read together during their sessions. She helped her improve her pronunciation and vocabulary through flashcards and activities.
Slowly, Vera started to blossom. She became more willing to talk, her reading has improved substantially and she is learning how to read and pronounce. Recently, Vera even served as the school ambassador to a new student, giving her a tour of the school and sharing her experiences throughout the tour. She’s not only come out of her shell, but she’s also found a passion for reading as well.
“Vera loves to read now and she wants to learn. I love that as a tutor, you have the ability to see the progress and see what your work is doing,” said Margie.
Through ongoing tutor support meetings, Margie has found a wealth of new ideas – from handouts and activities to do with the children to advice and shared experiences from other tutors.
“I do a lot of volunteer work, but this is the one that I really really love. This is the one volunteer opportunity that feeds my soul.”