Air Force 1st Lt. Arnold A. Perez, surrounded by a kids-friendly setting, reads to students at the Chapman Partnership from the United Arab Emirates.  Perez, who has been reading in the club’s Story Time program for four years, has continued his weekly readings despite the eight-hour time difference.

Air Force 1st Lt. Arnold A. Perez, surrounded by a kids-friendly setting, reads to students at the Chapman Partnership from the United Arab Emirates.  Perez, who has been reading in the club’s Story Time program for four years, has continued his weekly readings despite the eight-hour time difference.                                           

At 7 p.m. in the United Arab Emirates, Air Force 1st Lt. Arnold A. Perez is usually wrapping up his busy day.

But on Fridays, Perez, a member of the Kiwanis Club of Homestead-South Dade (HomesteadKiwanis.org), one of South Florida’s most active community service organizations, extends his day by an hour by reading—via ZOOM—to kids in the Miami Dade County Public School’s Head Start program at the Chapman Partnership.

It’s all part of the Kiwanis’ popular 15-year-old Story Time reading program.

“I love the kids and this is a way of staying in contact with them” said Perez, husband of Kiwanis Lt. Governor and Homestead Councilwoman Erica Ávila. “No matter where I am, it’s important to show kids that you care, that you’re there for them.”

Perez has been reading to the kids at the Chapman Partnership (ChapmanPartnership.org) on Fridays for the past four years. At first, the readings were, of course, live. Then last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the readings continued, only virtually.

And now, even with an eight-hour time difference (the readings happen at 9 a.m. Miami time), Story Time continues.

“This is truly an example of a dedicated individual,” said Head Start teacher Michael R. Serantes. “Obviously, nobody would blame him if he stopped reading while he was in the Middle East. But he chose to continue and the kids love it. They look forward to Story Time every Friday.”

For more information on the various activities of the Kiwanis Club of Homestead-South or to participate in one of their community-service projects, visit HomesteadKiwanis.org or contact President Emily Guzman at (786) 399-4161.

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