McKinney worked as a stipended volunteer in a preschool program run by the national education nonprofit JUMPSTART in Los Angeles. In this video, she talks about how her encore helped low-income children with language and literacy, and energized her later years at the same time.
JUMPSTART is a national education organization that trains experienced adults and college students in a proven curriculum that helps preschool children in low-income neighborhoods develop language and literacy skills early, helping close the achievement gap before it is too late.
Carleaner McKinney, JUMPSTART Volunteer
It makes you feel like you have accomplished something. That you can make a difference, even though I’m 75 years old. When I go to that site, I don’t feel 75.
Before I came into Jumpstart, I was very depressed. My son had passed. He was young. He was 48. He had a heart attack. I was going to see a psychiatrist, but it wasn’t helping me. I just wanted to wallow, and feel sorry for myself.
Christine Manley, JUMPSTART Program Director
We see older adults as a great untapped resource in our community. They run an entire lesson plan for two hours twice a week and they’re supporting the teachers and doing follow up one-on-one assistance with the children. Consistently we’re seeing children gain more and more in their language and literacy skills than other children who don’t have that same support.
You see the joy when they learn how to write their ABC’s. How they learn how to spell their name. How to pronounce their names. It’s little small things that don’t seem like much, but it’s a big difference to those children, and to their parents. They can go to college, junior college, universities, whatever. But we got to start now, while they’re young.
Sometimes I’ve heard volunteers say, you know, after I retired I was just thrown away. They basically felt like they had no purpose and no use and all that they had to give no one could see anymore. No one could make use of it. And to me, that’s a tragedy.
Jumpstart helped me survive. Those children helped me survive. And each year, it gets better and better. This is my third year, and I’m hoping it’ll be my fourth, because I want to come back as long as I can. Don’t just sit at home. You’ve got something to give back. Give it. Give it to the young people.
(This interview is a memorial to Carleaner McKinney, who passed away in 2016.)