July 20, 2013

Citizen of the Week: Tom Bartley

The Daily Citizen

— He wasn’t told what he’d be getting into, literally and figuratively.

But Tom Bartley donned a Cat and the Hat costume with a smile and greeted more than 800 locals for three hours Thursday night without complaint.

To hear the children at the Celebration of Literacy event at the Mack Gaston Community Center, Bartley was the highlight of the event.

“That’s so cool,” Isabella Friajo, 7, said of seeing Bartley. “That’s one of my favorite books! I love him.”

Friajo was one of several kids who took their photo with Bartley at the celebration, which marks a year of the Readers to Leaders program, a local literacy push to get all local children reading on grade level by third grade.

“This was a last-minute thing,” Melissa Lu, an Archway professional who helped coordinate the event, said. “Someone just called Tom at the very last minute and said, ‘Will you be the Cat in the Hat?’ I’m sure he didn’t know he would stand there and greet every kid that came in.”

But he took the task without question, Lu said.

“It was a tremendous moment of volunteerism,” she added.

Pam Partain, Readers to Leaders chair, agreed.

“He sat patiently and let all those kids crawl on him and take pictures with him to promote literacy,” she said. “I’d (also) love to give a nod to all the great volunteers. We had 109 register and several walk-in volunteers who just wanted to help.”

Bartley, and the other volunteers, showed “our community at its best,” Partain said.

“Tom made all those kids feel so special.” Lu added.

For giving hundreds of local children a night of memories, while promoting reading, The Daily Citizen names Tom Bartley Citizen of the Week.