A "Power Lunch" with True Sustenance

Power Lunch Reader Diane Manning
The Miriam Hospital's Diane Manning has been reading to students in the Power Lunch Program for more than 20 years.

Long-time Miriam Hospital employee Diane Manning heard one day that colleagues were visiting nearby schools at lunchtime to read to youngsters. She thought, “I love to read. I like kids . . . I can do this!”

That was 20 years ago. Ever since, Manning has been making a weekly trip from her office at the diagnostic imaging department to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School on nearby Camp Street.

“We read from 12:30 p.m. to maybe 1:05 p.m.,” said Manning. “The children get their lunch, they’ll come meet us and we read to them while they’re eating. If there’s time, they read back to us.”

Lifespan’s “Power Lunch” reading program pairs employees with fourth and fifth graders in Providence-area schools for weekly sessions. It’s designed to enhance students’ reading skills. Volunteers take part in 30-minute, one-on-one sessions that last the entire academic year.

As a part of its community service efforts, Lifespan has volunteers going to the Carl G. Lauro, Bailey, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. elementary schools.

Manning said there’s one strict requirement to volunteer: “You have to be committed to the program,” because the children look forward to seeing their lunch buddies each week. Manning knows how the children feel.

“I get so much enjoyment out of it. The kids really light up when they see you,” she added.