Volunteer Appreciation Spotlight: Kara Forde

Kara behind the scenes as MOI’s Captain at a Storytelling & Bookmaking field trip.

MOI is grateful to have so many dedicated volunteers who are passionate about ensuring students have the support they need to build strong reading and writing skills. Recently we caught up with Kara Forde, an MOI crew member passionate about early literacy and narrowing the achievement gap in education to learn why she enjoys volunteering with MOI.

Kara currently works at Wild Rumpus bookstore, located in the Linden Hills neighborhood of South Minneapolis, and is also a Katie Williams CARE (Child Care Advocates Ready to Emerge) Fellow, growing her knowledge and skills around advocacy for school-age children. When you meet Kara, you can’t help but feel the passion she has for literacy and reading.

“Kara has been with MOI for a long time as a consistent, dependable, and enthusiastic volunteer—and she makes a great captain. We're lucky to have her on our crew."

- MOI Program and Volunteer Coordinator, Ellen Fee

Not only do MOI staff recognize Kara’s gift, but students do too. One of Kara’s favorite MOI memories is from a Storytelling & Bookmaking Field Trip at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia). As the third grade students regrouped in the classroom after exploring the museum for inspiration for their story’s characters, two friends approached Kara. “Do you sometimes do field trips for second graders?” one student asked. Kara responded that she’s worked with MOI writing stories for a few years now. The student replied, “I remember you from a field trip last year!” Kara thought it was incredibly validating” that this student had so much fun writing with MOI’s crew once before and remembered her as someone who helped make that experience fun and exciting.

From Kara’s  perspective, volunteering with MOI is the perfect bridge between the professional world of literature and the impact that books can have on the lives of young people. The way MOI integrates its whimsical sea-theme into programming and works with students on their level represents the “antithesis of condescension in learning,” Kara says. “This playful approach to learning otherwise difficult skills makes working with students so much fun as a volunteer.”

At MOI, students are learning to love reading and writing because they belong to a community that loves reading and values their voices. Kara remembers it wasn’t until the third or fourth grade that she began to love reading. However, her love of books has carried her far in life, opening her up to opportunities like the CARE Fellowship.

According to Kara, literacy isn’t something that a person learns overnight from a parent or just one teacher—it’s something that takes time, practice, and patience from many people to learn. “Learning to read is a gift given to you by many people,” she says.

This realization strengthens Kara’s resolve to continue passing the gift of a love of reading on to others as an MOI volunteer. Cultivating a love of reading in students means that they will develop the communication and critical thinking skills needed to succeed in the world.  “Coming to MOI and seeing the energy and imagination that students at MOI embody because they’ve been encouraged to be their authentic selves makes me feel hopeful for the future,” she says.

If Kara inspired you to get involved with MOI, fill out our volunteer interest form. Have questions? Email Ellen at ellen@moi-msp.org.