Resident Empowers Next Generation Through Reading

On the surface, Debbie Farnam is a typical resident enjoying retirement life at Friendship Village Tempe. But every Tuesday and Thursday, the former health care administrator puts on her teacher’s hat and heads over to nearby Arredondo Elementary School. From 3 to 6 p.m., she conducts reading exercises with three students as part of a special after-school volunteer program.

“I’m an avid reader who really enjoys a good book,” said Debbie. “This program is a chance to not only share that passion with others, but also to make a difference in their lives.”

The children Debbie works with hail from Spanish-speaking homes, so her role involves helping them master the English language. It’s an opportunity she cherishes dearly, and she loves seeing her students make progress. She’s honored to know that she’s having a positive impact on the next generation. The admiration is mutual. The kids enjoy having her around so much she’s practically their adopted grandmother. 

“Children are our future, and they need all the support we can provide them,” explained Debbie. “Education is key to their success, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to contribute to that.”

Debbie noted the maintenance-free lifestyle at Friendship Village allows for plenty of time to pursue such passions. The community has a deep-seated culture of philanthropy, with residents volunteering countless hours toward various charitable endeavors throughout the year. 

“We’re amazed time and time again by the generosity of our residents,” said Cole Marvin, executive director at Friendship Village. “Debbie’s work at Arredondo is a fine example. Her level of dedication is what we all strive for.”

“I’ve always been a volunteer,” added Debbie. “Giving back was a priority for my family growing up, and I’ve stuck with it my whole life.”