Nothing But Upside

Meet Tim Dobbins, a first-year Experience Corps tutor. He works with third graders in both regular school day and after-school at Golden Empire Elementary. We asked Tim a few questions about his life before becoming a volunteer and his experience as a tutor thus far in the year.


How did you spend your days before you joined Experience Corps (career path/background)?
I had a 34-year career in Electrical Engineering working at Texas Instruments, Honeywell, and Intel. After retiring from Intel in 2016 I worked in a few nonprofits, primarily at Impact Foundry. Impact Foundry, the nonprofit resource center for Northern California, provided a fantastic overview of the nonprofit community in Sacramento.


Describe a bit of your family.
I have a wife of 31 years, who’s an Industrial-Organizational (IO) Psychologist who leads a research team within the State of California, and a son that is suffering through his junior year in high school. We also have a dog and two cats without any education whatsoever.


What’s a fun fact we might not know about you from working with you through Experience Corps?
We had an Exchange student from Thailand living with us for the entire 2018-2019 school year.


What would a perfect day look like to you?
I would wake up and the country would be changed. People would disagree but seek to understand all sides of a discussion and look for compromise rather than preconceived bias based on the identity of the speaker. But since that is unlikely, I would take a day that donuts, fried chicken, French fries, nachos and cheeseburgers were all calorie free. That seems a lot more likely than my first idea.


What drew you to become an Experience Corps volunteer?
I loved working with the team at Impact Foundry, and I loved the nonprofit environment. I wanted to experience some work directly with people that are being impacted by nonprofit efforts. Add to that the overwhelming importance of reading to the development and open mindedness of young people, and the fact that here we have a fully developed program with associated validation studies to show that it works. All I have to do is follow the plan that I was taught.


What’s been your favorite thing about tutoring so far? What’s the biggest challenge?
Without a doubt the favorite thing is the people, both the kids and the other volunteers/workers. The level of commitment and concern for the kids in the other volunteers is so motivating to me. And the kids are just a kick in the rear to help me remember life is awesome. The biggest challenge is getting rev’d up for the day. I don’t have a great connection with every kid, and sometimes the kids want to play more than read. But that is why I love this program. Just get through the reading games, talk to them about the book, then read a book to the kids. It is so stinking easy with nothing but upside.