Family Services - Youth Behavioral Health & Adult Disabilities - Gallagher & Villa programs

Behavioral Health - Working with Youth - Book Buddies - relational reading partnerships

Reading aloud to children has been determined to be “the single most important activity for building knowledge for their eventual success in reading.” [citation] That’s compelling at Villa Maria School, where children are largely working below grade level in reading -- sometimes by multiple grades. Besides academics, VMS school children are addressing emotional and behavioral challenges that keep them from participating in general education settings, therefore the psychological and relational payoffs of listening to stories are also a boon to treatment.

Reading partners, or “Book Buddies,” will partner with one child in a third grade classroom to read stories aloud and build a positive relationship. Once a week, during the school day, volunteers will join a student either in-person (preferred) or in a virtual setting (backup) to share a story by reading aloud and engaging in conversation.

Volunteer candidates must be consistent, positive, patient, flexible, and adept at appreciating “What’s strong” instead of “What’s wrong.” If engaging virtually, we require individuals who are tech-competent, comfortable using the full-functionality of the Zoom platform; who are expressive, and possess clear diction – qualities that will be essential when engaging children through a virtual platform.


Commitment: 45 minutes total, once a week for two school semesters (mid-October through mid-June). Tentatively, Book Buddies will arrive Tuesdays at 12:20. Children arrive 12:30 PM. Active reading time is up to 30 minutes, ending by 1:00 PM. 

Pre-Service Training (orientation for all new volunteers): Weeknight from 6-8PM - opportunities are scheduled quarterly

Mentor Trauma Training (required for all volunteers who serve in one-to-one roles with children): Weeknight 6-9 PM via Zoom (opportunities are scheduled 3/year)

Book Buddy Training: September 2024, two 1-hour sessions at Villa Maria School

To apply, please click where prompted "I would like to volunteer." Background checks will be required as well as influenza vaccination.

Qualifications Required

  • Child Protective Services check Must be at least Submitted to DSS
  • Influenza Vaccination Must be at least Vaccination received
  • Interview Must be Interview complete
  • MSDE Background Check Must be Complete
  • Policy forms Must be at least Completed
  • Pre-Service Training (2 hr. training) Must be at least Completed PST
  • Reference check Must be at least 2 clear
  • Sterling Volunteers Criminal Background Check Must be at least Clear
  • Tuberculosis risk screening Must be at least Questionnaire cleared by Director of Nursing

Schedule Summary

The next 10 shifts (out of 35 total shifts) for this activity are as follows

Date Start Time End Time
Tuesday, October 22, 2024 12:20 PM 1:00 PM
Tuesday, October 29, 2024 12:20 PM 1:00 PM
Tuesday, November 05, 2024 12:20 PM 1:00 PM
Tuesday, November 12, 2024 12:20 PM 1:00 PM
Tuesday, November 19, 2024 12:20 PM 1:00 PM
Tuesday, November 26, 2024 12:20 PM 1:00 PM
Tuesday, December 03, 2024 12:20 PM 1:00 PM
Tuesday, December 10, 2024 12:20 PM 1:00 PM
Tuesday, December 17, 2024 12:20 PM 1:00 PM
Tuesday, December 24, 2024 12:20 PM 1:00 PM

About Us


Inspired by the Gospel mandates to love, serve and teach, Catholic Charities provides care and services to improve the lives of Marylanders in need.


Cherishing the Divine Within, we are committed to a Maryland where each person has the opportunity to reach his or her God-given potential.


To Love, To Serve, To Teach and To Work for Justice

Who We Are

Family Services is a division of Catholic Charities of Baltimore, which includes nearly half of the agency's 80 programs. This hub covers volunteering opportunities for our child welfare, behavioral health, adult disability, and violence prevention programs, including Gallagher Services, St. Vincent's Villa, Safe Streets, and the Villa Maria programs.

What We Do

We provide three categories of service:

Thank you

Thank you to Zapier for helping us expand our capacity to recruit and retain volunteers by making our team extra efficient. :)