Volunteer Spotlight: Shirley C.

Shirley Cavanagh has been tutoring at the Bristol site for almost five years. As a librarian at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU), she enjoyed helping students utilize resources for their undergraduate papers and graduate theses. She described herself as being almost a “college tutor.” She is currently a co-president of the Hamden Woman’s Club, a non-profit organization that provides a number of different volunteer services. 

After retiring in 2016, Shirley discovered New Haven Reads. She wanted to be involved in tutoring younger students who may be struggling or not particularly fond of reading. When asked what keeps her coming back to New Haven Reads, she responded, “Many things… I think the staff is exceptional. Especially in the past year and a half I’ve seen their dedication and commitment to continuing the program and continuing to work with students and their parents.”

One of Shirley’s all time favorite books is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and as a child it was the Anne of Green Gables series by Maud Montgomery. She also mentioned that when she used to babysit, she read Where the Wild Things Are multiple times and enjoyed doing so. 

Shirley described a memorable and rewarding experience she recently had during a Zoom session. Her and the student were reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid, typically taking turns every other page. Until one day the student who was once somewhat reluctant to read said, “I want to read.”