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Through the city's robust Office of Volunteer Resources, which was founded in 1978, citizen volunteers engage members of the community in all aspects of city government. Currently, Mayor Sessoms is focusing on education and youth through Virginia Beach READS, the city’s effort to rally the entire community around ensuring that all students can read on or above grade level by third grade.

Using the Cities of Service Third Grade Reads Blueprint , Virginia Beach READS works with struggling first grade readers in three elementary schools to pair them up with citizen volunteer tutors. The tutors provide intensive yet fun literacy tutoring sessions twice per week for the entire school year. In partnership with Virginia Beach City Public Schools, volunteer tutors receive extensive training in both effective instructional methods and techniques for increasing student engagement. Virginia Beach recognizes that citizen engagement and collaboration across multiple government, school, and community partners is key to successfully achieving collective impact on the issue of third grade reading proficiency.

Virginia Beach has been a member of the Cities of Service coalition since 2009, when Mayor Sessoms signed the Declaration of Service.

Mayor Will Sessoms

Prior to being elected, Mayor Will Sessoms served as an at-large member of the City Council and as vice mayor. In the private sector, Mayor Sessoms worked in the banking industry for 35 years.

Volunteer Resources Coordinator Melissa Zibutis

Melissa has been Virginia Beach’s city lead for Cities of Service since 2012. Under Melissa’s leadership, the City of Virginia Beach Volunteer Program engages thousands of volunteers with 35 city departments and state agencies. She helped adapt the Third Grade Reads Blueprint into a successful tutor-mentor program and serves as the government liaison for the Long Term Recovery Effort of Hurricane Matthew as it relates to managing volunteers and donations.