Experience Making a Difference

Experience Making a Difference

IVC Philadelphia/South Jersey Member Profile: Bette Ann Binstead

by | Sep 25, 2023

At Morton McMichael School in the Mantua neighborhood of Philadelphia, there hasn’t been a library for students since draconian budget cuts eliminated most public-school libraries in the city decades ago. But IVC volunteer Bette Ann Binstead, working with the West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WePAC), is part of an effort to fill this gap in a school system where two-thirds of the students are reading below grade level. “The kids lost so much during Covid, they are so far behind,” she reports. “But we use the time we have with them as best we can.”

A retired educator herself, Bette Ann spends a morning a week at the school, reaching as many students as possible with books that WePAC is able to provide through donations and purchases: “We can’t fully replace a library, but we try to encourage reading. Kids come to the library and we read them stories, and then they get to pick out a book to borrow. Sometimes their choices are not what we would have picked! We try to encourage good literature, but it’s more important to give them something that interests them.”

Being part of IVC has deepened Bette Ann’s sense of the significance of her work. “If I were just a volunteer, it would be a self-contained experience. But when I am with the other IVC people, it’s a wider view. The introduction to Ignatian spirituality helps me to see how what I am doing is part of something much bigger. Being able to debrief the experience is incredibly valuable. It is a community of caring and kind people that was really sent by the Holy Spirit for me.”

– Tom Baker