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United Way reading initiative hires coordinator

POSTED: September 30, 2014 11:53 p.m.

The Read Learn Succeed initiative from the United Way of Hall County took its first step toward improving childhood literacy and education last week in hiring a program coordinator.

Ruth Demby, associate pastor of missions at First Baptist Church Gainesville, will serve as the part-time program coordinator for Read Learn Succeed. The hire is the first major step in the program, according to Jackie Wallace, president of the United Way of Hall County.

“When United Way of Hall County launched this initiative in March ... it became very clear that this is an issue our community needs to pay attention to,” Demby said.

“Children aren’t starting school with all the tools they need to be successful. As we as an organization continue and speak with other community leaders, it just became obvious to us that we need someone to lead this charge for us.”

Read Learn Succeed was implemented six months ago, and Wallace said it will be Demby’s task to determine exactly how the initiative should work toward its goals.

“I see this opportunity to marry my current work at First Baptist in a localized forum to create real change in the lives of children in our community,” Demby said in a news release from United Way. “In my experiences in missions, outreach and education I have often thought to myself, ‘If I just could have reached this child just a little bit sooner,’ and Read Learn Succeed is our opportunity to do just that.”

According to Wallace, the program is designed to unite community partners in addressing childhood learning issues, to improve programs and methods in the community and to determine how the community could work together better.

Wallace said United Way officials believe a quality education can lead to financial stability later on, which can lead to improved health and happiness. She said a child who has access to books or who has a parent to read to them has a better chance of receiving a quality education.

“This crosses all boundaries, all racial and socio-economical boundaries,” Wallace said. “This is every child in Hall County that we’re talking about. We need all children to start school with all they need to be successful in life.”

Demby will begin her work with Read Learn Succeed this month with the national nonprofit Read Aloud 15 MINUTES. The nonprofit works with partners in all 50 states to educate on the benefits of nourishing children’s minds from birth. The program spreads the message that reading aloud to a child for 15 minutes daily will improve the face of education in the U.S.

“We cannot look at our school systems solely to do this,” Wallace said. “By the time (children) are 5 years old and hit our schools’ doors, we’ve got to have them in a position that they can be successful.”

To learn more about Read Learn Succeed, call United Way at 770-536-1121 or visit www.unitedwayhallcounty.org/read-learn-succeed.



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