ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) – Every month FOX 47 features someone in our community who is making a difference and we honor them with a Jefferson Award.
Our November winner helps students learn to read.
A book can take you anywhere, which means Randy Schmidt has lead dozens of students on grand adventures.
When he’s not working at IBM, you can find him volunteering at Harriet Bishop Elementary at the school’s Reading Oasis.
With support from his Sunrisers Kiwanis club, he spearheaded the effort to build the Reading Oasis about three years ago.
He and other volunteers come in regularly to help young students improve their reading.
“It is really interesting as you see, to look to the beginning of the year to the end of the year and see how they progress and it is something that is personally rewarding,” Schmidt said.
His passion for literacy started with his own experiences.
“I myself, when I was in first grade struggled first when I started reading and it was through the efforts of teachers and volunteers that I was able to overcome that and continue to develop.”
Over the years, Randy has proven himself to be a devoted member of the Kiwanis.
“Randy and I have been working on these book programs for the last three, four, five years now and the different things that we’ve done,” said Lyle Solem, a member of the Sunrisers Kiwanis and another Reading Oasis volunteer. “He’s always been a person you can rely on.”
Randy has no plans to close this chapter of his life anytime soon, helping young readers go on adventures through the gift of literacy.
“The best thing that we can do is bring volunteers into our schools and our different activities to encourage continued development of our kids so that they do become successful, new community members,” Schmidt said.
That’s not the only thing that Randy is involved in. He also volunteers for Ability Building Center and the Cradle to Career Initiative, just to name a few.
And if you know someone who’s also making a difference, you can nominate them for a Jefferson Award here.