Gayle Elleven, 40
Fort Worth, Texas
What I do
For three hours every week I tutor adults who read on a second- to sixth-grade level. We use books, magazines, and Web sites -- anything that engages them and helps build their reading skills.
Why I do it
A friend once told me that she thinks that educational charities are most effective because they help break the cycle of poverty. So when I decided this year that I was ready to do something, I went online and found volunteermatch.org. I keyed in info like my hometown, "women," and "education," and this program popped up. It seemed perfect!
The big picture
I think a lot of people see children as their legacy, their way of giving back to the world. My husband and I don't have kids, so I wanted to do something to make a meaningful contribution. I decided volunteer work would be a great way for me to create a legacy of my own.
One of the women I tutored is now taking college courses and working toward getting a degree. But really, all my students inspire me. With so many reasons to skip tutoring sessions -- jobs, kids, chores, and tons of other responsibilities -- they overcome all the obstacles and find a way to get here.
The real benefit
The people I work with get a lot out of the program, but so do I. It's rewarding to know you are helping people improve their lives.