After Louis Cohen sold his business in 2002, he began looking for new outlets for his talents and passion. He discovered the OASIS intergenerational tutoring program in 2004.
“I had a number of friends who were tutoring students,” he explained. “I like kids, so I thought I would give it a try.” Almost a decade later, he is one of the program’s strongest advocates, rarely missing a Thursday morning session with his young students, and delighting in their progress.
“It makes me feel good to see these children learning and discovering new worlds,” he said. “There are a lot of these kids who come from broken homes and can benefit from having a male figure around,” he said. “They want to do better, they want to learn, and I feel I can help them do just that.”
Lou generally tutors boys in grades 1-3, although he is currently working with two sisters — Addie, grade 4 and Alex, grade 2. “I do a great deal of reading with the girls and I also spend time with Addie on special assignments from her teacher,” Lou explained.
“He’s a lot of fun,” said Addie. “We read a lot of books, do word search games and even math problems. He also travels a lot, so he tells us about the places he goes and things like that.” Lou’s trips have led to discussions about the globe and locations on the map. As a result, Addie has developed a greater interest in geography. Lou did such a good job working with Addie that her mother specifically asked that Alex also have a chance to work with him.
Lou’s dedication to the program inspired his own children, Emily Cohen Rosenfeld and Andy Cohen, to honor him on his 80th birthday by establishing the OASIS Intergenerational Tutoring Fund in his name.
Contributions to the fund will be used to recruit, train and support the work of OASIS tutors working one-on-one with children in grades K-4 who have been identified as academically at-risk by their teachers.
“We know how strongly Dad feels about his tutoring,” said Emily. “He talks about it all the time and takes it very seriously. If there’s ever a conflict in his schedule, he always chooses tutoring over something else.
“There are so many other tutors out there who are just as committed,” she added. “Our hope is that their families and friends may see this fund as an opportunity to honor them in a similar way.”
Lou hopes the fund will help OASIS continue to enrich the tutoring program. “I have a lot of respect for the challenges that today’s teachers deal with,” he noted. “If the hour or so each week we spend with these kids can help them learn, it’s well worth our time.”