It's never too early to start reading and the Traverse Bay Twilight Rotary Club has adopted a new signature project, Born to Read, to promote community literacy through outreach to families with new babies.
Born to Read is a collaborative effort of the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District, Traverse Bay/Manistee Great Start, Traverse Area District Library, Munson Healthcare/Healthy Futures, Friends of the Library and Twilight Rotary.
With approximately 2,000 births in the Grand Traverse region annually, initial outreach to families is made with expectant mothers through the prepared stay visit at Munson Medical Center, The Healthy Futures program offers an option for all families of a newborn to participate in a Registered Nurse home-based support program which includes a home visit within six weeks after delivery. During this visit, the nurse shares a "Welcome Baby" kit that includes information and materials highlighting the importance of literacy and childhood development in the first five years of life, including a book, a music CD, various parenting resources and a certificate redeemable for an additional book and tote bag at a local library.
Twilight Rotary members have invested a significant amount of time and thought into choosing this as their signature project. In addition to contributing financially to the initiative, members assemble "Welcome Baby" kits and Born to Read tote bags and organize community fund-raising campaigns to continue the work.
"Evidence clearly shows that reading and access to books leads to better outcomes for children," said Twilight Rotary member Carolyn Collins. "The beauty of working on the Born to Read initiative together is that we will impact greater numbers and build stronger communities across the region. We want parents to read to their children, take their children to the library, receive library cards, check out books and participate in reading programs."
Marybeth Novak of Catholic Human Services wrote on behalf of the agency's Host Homes for Homeless Youth Program to acknowledge everyone who took part in SwingShift and the Stars.
"There are so many people involved to thank that it's impossible to name even a small percentage of them," Marybeth wrote.
She went on to say that the following people deserve some individual recognition: Melissa Coolman and Judy Harrison with High Impact Productions for inviting the agency to compete; local businessman John Corcoran and Dance Arts Academy dance instructor Maria Curiale-West for competing as the program's dance team; and the people from Peterson Productions for being professional and patient during various photo sessions.
"There are a number of people from the area and beyond who made very generous, anonymous donations," Marybeth stated. "They know who they are, and while they would ordinarily receive a personal thank-you from us, we don't know their names or how to contact them. Their contributions were very significant and very appreciated by us and we never would have been as successful as we were raising funds ... without them. I can only wish all of you, named or anonymous, the very best. There would be no Host Home Program without caring people like yourselves. Thank you so much to all of you."