First Book and Points of Light Honor Five Exceptional Literacy Volunteers With Award Created by President George H. W. Bush
Daily Point of Light Award Celebrates Volunteers During 2015 Read Across America Campaign
WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 27, 2015 – First Book and Points of Light today announced that five volunteers from across the country – all dedicated to improving literacy in their communities – will receive the Daily Point of Light Award. One honoree encourages kids to read to his dogs. Another wraps books as birthday presents. In ways that are meaningful to them, all are helping our nation’s children learn to read.
The honor, created by Points of Light founder President George H. W. Bush 25 years ago, showcases the power of individuals to tackle community needs through volunteer service.
The awards are being presented next week, starting on March 2, in coordination with the National Education Association’s annual Read Across America Day.
Volunteers are vital in addressing literacy at a time when 42 percent of U.S. children – more than 30 million – live in low-income households, most without age-appropriate books. Their homes and schools often lack the quality reading resources the students need.
“Without solid reading skills, children face severely limited academic and career options later in life,” said Delores Morton, Points of Light’s president of programs. “By using their time, passion and talents to help kids learn to read, these Daily Point of Light honorees set an example for all of us who see challenges in our communities and want to be part of the solution.”
Kyle Zimmer, president and CEO of First Book, added, “These extraordinary volunteers have shown such dedication to helping children read, learn and succeed. We are grateful for their efforts and hope their stories inspire many more people to take action, from helping a child learn to read to raising money to support a local school or program.”
The Daily Point of Light awardees are:
Terrance Brown (Latham, New York) – A retired combat veteran, Brown knows the therapeutic power of dogs, as his own dog helped him manage post-traumatic stress disorder. Now, with two Shetland sheepdogs, Brown is giving confidence to 120 elementary school students struggling with reading. The children who are reluctant to read aloud often feel more comfortable if they are able to read to the dogs.
Tiffany James (Baltimore) – James tutors a child weekly through Reading Partners, a nonprofit that connects students in low-income communities with tutors. She has helped recruit co-workers from the Baltimore Parking Authority as volunteers and helped organize a book drive that collected more than 2,400 books for children.
Cara McCollum (Forrest City, Arkansas) – In 2008, McCollum founded the Birthday Book Project, a nonprofit that sends new, gift-wrapped books to children in need for their birthdays – to show them what a gift reading can be. McCollum has sent more than 25,000 books to children in New Jersey and Arkansas.
Nina Nelan (Denver) – A tax director at PwC, Nelan recruited dozens of co-workers to join her for Power Lunch, a reading program that matches each volunteer with a third grade “buddy” attending a Denver public school. Buddies read together weekly for a year. Last year, the volunteers helped boost kids’ reading by 1½ grade levels.
Jeannette Winkelman (Richardson, Texas) – Winkelman, who taught English as a second language (ESL) for 20 years, was instrumental in establishing ESL classes for adults at her church. Those classes eventually led to the creation of Read With Me, a church program that enlists volunteers to read with children during the summer.
More than 5,300 volunteers across the country have received the Daily Point of Light Award for addressing a variety of issues in their communities, from health care to homelessness. Points of Light accepts nominations year-round at www.pointsoflight.org/dailypointoflight.
About First Book
First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise that has distributed more than 125 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada. By making new, high-quality books and educational resources available on an ongoing basis, First Book is transforming the lives of children in need and elevating the quality of education. If you serve children in need and are interested in these or other First Book resources, please sign up with First Book at www.firstbook.org/register. For more information, please visit us online or follow our latest news on Facebook and Twitter.
About Points of Light?
Points of Light – the largest organization in the world dedicated to volunteer service – mobilizes millions of people to take action that is changing the world. Through affiliates in 250 cities and partnerships with thousands of nonprofits and corporations, Points of Light engages more than 4 million volunteers in 30 million hours of service each year. We bring the power of people to bear where it matters most. For more information, go to www.pointsoflight.org.