Volunteer Spotlight: Randy Schroeder

In his 14 years of volunteering with The Literacy Project, Randy Schroeder has helped 19 middle-school students with their reading, homework, and English as a Second Language skills.

Randy lives in Gypsum, and his day job is with San Isabel Telecom. In giving back to the community in such a profound and lasting way, Randy is following in his own father’s footsteps.

“My father, Earl D. Schroeder, was an amazing man, a WWII veteran and a member to the aptly named ‘Greatest Generation,'” said Randy. “While he was stationed in Korea in the 1960s, he ran across and ‘adopted’ 120 kids in an orphanage. Completely on his own initiative, he advocated back stateside for the little ones, raised funds to bring piped-in water, improve the school and dormitory buildings, and purchase livestock (pigs, chickens, cows) to help them become self-sufficient. This was typical for him. He sponsored and coordinated the immigration of over 60 Cambodians fleeing persecution in their native country.”

Randy’s father went on to serve as a Boy Scout troop leader for 20 years.
In his 14 years with The Literacy Project, Randy has also made considerable impact on his Eagle County community.

“I originally volunteered with The Literacy Project expecting to work with adults, teaching them to read. Along the way someone thought I’d fit well into the Study Friends program, which provides tutoring to middle school students who need help with organization, motivation, and technical mastery of their school subjects. I’ve been with the Study Friends program ever since, and have enjoyed working with some amazing kids.”

To date, Randy has tutored 19 young people through Study Friends. When asked if a particular student stands out among them, Randy is hard pressed to choose. “All of them were special to me in some way,” said Randy.

“There was the young man struggling with most subjects (getting Ds and Fs), but with math in particular,” said Randy. “He had missed out somehow on the foundational knowledge he needed to build his math skills, and his organizational skills were, shall we say, less than stellar.”

Randy met weekly with the young man for over a year, watched as he became increasingly motivated, and celebrated with him when his grades went up consistently, particularly in math.

“It was gratifying to hear from the young man’s Dad recently that he just graduated from Colorado School of Mines with degree in Engineering,” said Randy. “Math literacy generates another success!”

When asked what has been the most surprising thing about working with young people through The Literacy Project, Randy is candid. “My day job involves working with wires, circuits, and numbers. My time is spent mostly among the racks, chassis, and black boxes that connect the people of this valley to each other and to the larger global community. But my job doesn’t provide me with much connection,” said Randy. “Working with kids is perfect, because I enjoy their youthful viewpoint and I genuinely believe that our future depends on the skills and attitudes we pass to our upcoming generations.”

Randy is consistently motivated by what he receives in return for volunteering.
“I have enjoyed working with some really amazing kids,” said Randy. “I am always surprised by the amount of personal fulfillment and life enrichment that I receive from these young people.”

Randy chose to volunteer with The Literacy Project because he believes strongly in their mission: To empower Eagle Valley community members of all ages by offering free assistance in acquiring the English literacy skills they need to function more effectively in their daily lives.

“It is my firm belief that the most important single skill any adult or child can have is that of literacy,” said Randy. “It is the key to unlocking the vast potential of an individual life. Simply put, literacy opens doors.”

Colleen Gray is the Executive Director of The Literacy Project, and has had many wonderful volunteers throughout her 25-year tenure. She is keenly aware of what a gem the organization has found in Randy. “Year after year, Randy makes dreams possible,” said Gray. “He has spent 14 years listening to young people, nurturing their self-esteem, and helping them rise above the barriers related to literacy.”
Randy is optimistic about the future of The Literacy Project’s mission, as well as the future of the young people in the Eagle County community.

“I’ve worked with kids that happen to be struggling now, but who–with a little boost–could blossom to make a huge difference in our world.”

The Literacy Project is always seeking volunteer tutors who would like to make a difference in our community. Visit their website for more information: www.literacyprojecteaglecounty.org.