July 25, 2013

Letter: Profoundly grateful

— Those who were fortunate enough to be at the Mack Gaston Community Center last Thursday afternoon got a glimpse of our community at its best. Several hundred children and their parents converged on the center for the second annual Celebration of Community Literacy and while there had the opportunity to hear books read to them, receive free books, make book-related crafts, enjoy healthy snacks and even walk the red carpet and have a photo opportunity with the Cat in the Hat!

Readers to Leaders is profoundly grateful to all those who worked together so beautifully to make this wonderful event possible. Thanks especially to Tom Pinson and his most excellent staff who shared their exquisite hospitality with us and with the community. Thanks to the 109 registered volunteers and the many walk-in volunteers who rolled up their sleeves and helped us register guests, read, distribute books, serve snacks, blow up balloons and glue googly eyes, frizzy hair and foam shapes onto box lids, fans and bookmarks. Thanks to Tom Bartley who patiently and warmly accommodated every child who wanted to have his or her picture made with the world’s most famous literary feline.

Thank you to Big Red Reads and the Northwest Georgia Regional Library who contributed books for every child at the Celebration. Thanks to Shaw Industries for providing craft supplies, carpeting and our Readers to Leaders banner, and to Mohawk Industries who supplied us with T-shirts for kids and volunteers. Thanks to Girl Scouts who painted little faces. Thanks to the Rotary Club of Dalton for the grant which allowed us to provide keepsake bins for children to store their books and for “Keep Books” for emergent readers.

Thanks to those who provided valuable information on services available to area families: WIC and the Whitfield County Health Department, United Way of Northwest Georgia, Adult Education of Georgia Northwestern Technical College, Boys & Girls Clubs, Family Support Council, Kool Smiles, AmeriGroup and Promotoras de Salud. Thanks to our friends at Books-A-Million who gave Readers to Leaders a cut of all book sales at the Dalton store the Saturday following our Celebration.

Thanks to our sponsoring organizations who provide human resources and financial support for our efforts: United Way of Northwest Georgia, city of Dalton, Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia, The Daily Citizen, Dalton First United Methodist Church, Dalton Public Schools, Dalton Utilities and OptiLink, Dalton State College, Whitfield Family Connection, First Presbyterian Church of Dalton, Georgia Northwestern Technical College, Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis Club of Dalton, Leadership Dalton-Whitfield Alumni, Mohawk Industries, Dalton-Whitfield Joint Development Authority, Northwest Georgia Regional Library, Rock Bridge Community Church, Rotary Club of Dalton, Shaw Industries, Whitfield County Schools, Whitfield County government, White’s Pediatrics and Young Professionals of Northwest Georgia.

Thanks, finally to our marvelous United Way AmeriCorps VISTA Marlen Rodriguez and the awesome R2L team members who are world class collaborators when it comes to making ours a better community for all our children. They are Phyllis Stephens, Melissa Lu, Katy Green, Jordan Manis, Lisa Hackney, Alice Ensley, Russell McCaslin, Suzanne Harbin, Ann Kuzniak, Dixie Kinard, Merry Boggs, Brian Cooksey, Barbara Ward, Margaret Zeisig, Amy Martin, Tom Pinson, Linda Floyd, Karol Radovich, Beverly Hedges and Jag, Tom Gerborg, Marla Sanford, Tracy Bryant, Cindy Morris and Elizabeth Chadwick.

We can all be proud to be part of a community that has made the early education of all our children such a high priority. Remember that today’s readers are tomorrow’s leaders.

Pam Partain, Dalton State College

Chair, Readers to Leaders