What inspires you? An interview with Joy Surprenant

Dedicated mother, teacher, and volunteer Joy Surprenant gives herself to everything she does—and to anyone she can help—inspiring many through her work with Reach Out and Read and her own nonprofit, Catching Joy.

Tell us about yourself:
I live with my husband, Michael Surprenant, and my 8-year-old son Maxwell, near Boston College where my husband and I met. Go BC Eagles! My background is in early childhood education. I used to teach preschool and kindergarten. Now, I do private tutoring and editing and co-lead a Preschool Storytime at The Blue Bunny, my favorite bookstore, in Dedham. Mainly, I run Catching Joy.

What inspires you to give?
I feel blessed with my family, friends, health, and all that has been given to me. I want to do more for others. I truly feel the joy of giving and it is this joy that motivates me to do more. My son also inspires me to try and make the world a nicer place one small act at a time.

Why is literacy so important to you?
I love reading for pleasure and learning. My favorite thing to do with my son is read, and we do it all the time. My son is a great reader—he devours chapter books! I believe that reading with children is the key to establishing academic success. It fosters parent/child closeness and conversations. As an educator, I see that reading fosters self-confidence, creativity, imagination, and opens the door to a world of opportunities.

Can you tell us more about Catching Joy and its mission?
Catching Joy is a 501c3 nonprofit that promotes volunteerism beginning with young children and their families. We organize hands-on community service projects that kids can do to let them feel the joy of giving such as singing in nursing homes, and making art for others.

How has Catching Joy worked with Reach Out and Read?
We have organized book drives and have led kids in making bookmarks to go along with the books, and distributed brochures and flyers about Reach Out and Read. Catching Joy is pleased to be a part of Read and Romp for the third year, and I am honored to co-chair for the third year. We host one of the book stations, Reading Makes You Feel Good by Todd Parr. We staff the table with our volunteers and supply the materials for the bookmark-making project. Kids decorate bookmarks with their care, creativity, crayons, and stickers.