The children at Sunset Heights’ after-school program fill the community room with excited oohs and aahs when Sonja Coffee strolls in carrying boxes brimming with bunny shaped baskets in vibrant spring hues of cerulean, tangerine and yellow – each bag holding a bookmark, a pencil and sweets.

Sonja is a familiar face in the community. She volunteers at Sunset Heights’ monthly Read with Kids event, where children read aloud to attentive volunteer reading companions who offer guidance and support.

“Investing our time and energy into these kids’ literacy is investing in their future,” Sonja said. “Volunteering as a Woman of Hope means making a direct and positive impact on children’s lives because, by sharing the gift of reading, we sow the seeds of confidence, opportunity, imagination and empathy – enriching not only the lives of the children we reach but also the fabric of our communities.”

Sonja is a personification of Women of Hope’s mission – she is a champion of literacy. She has donated book-themed gifts such as pillows, bookmarks and even a medical book for a young resident interested in becoming a doctor.

And the kids love having her around – Joey, 8, said she plans to use the bookmark Sonja delivered for her books.

“It’s fun to read with her, because she makes funny voices and she’s really nice when we don’t know a word,” Joey said.

Sonja joined Women of Hope in 2020 when she was searching for a volunteer group that was engaged with the communities. Since then, she has consistently attended Read with Kids and is a vocal advocate for literacy events.

“I’m so passionate about it because I never had it, so I want others to see the value in reading. If I get to impact at least one child, then I’ve done my job,” Sonja said. “I wish I had something like what Hope through Housing provides when I was growing up.”

Sunset Heights service coordinator Stephanie Joseph eagerly awaits Sonja’s visits with her dedicated Women of Hope volunteers.

“Sonja being a proponent of early literacy makes Read with Kids extra special,” Stephanie said. “It helps service coordinators expand our reach so we can make sure that every child is receiving the attention they deserve.”

Learn more about Women of Hope




Skip to content