United Way for Dawson County kicked off its annual fundraising campaign in September with plans to collect more than $100,000 for area social service organization partners. This is the third in a series of articles highlighting success stories from local agencies that receive assistance from United Way for Dawson County.
READ Inc (Reading, education, association of Dawson County) a nonprofit literacy advocacy group, is one of the 11 organizations currently receiving funding from the United Way for Dawson County.
READ became a United Way organization about a year ago.
“We are very grateful to the entire United Way team for their outstanding support of READ’s work in our county,” said Sue Tennant, executive director of READ.
“We feel that part of creating opportunities for people to make a better life is making sure children can achieve their full potential. It all starts with a quality education. So, READ plays an important role in what we want to see happen in this community,” said Ruth Goode, executive director of the United Way for Dawson County.
READ funnels the funding from the United Way into various community projects that promote literacy, but mostly to cover the costs of the Wee Read project, which provides books for preschool children, from birth to age 5. Age-appropriate, hardcover books are delivered to participating children’s homes once a month.
“It is such a great way to promote reading and learning without any cost to the family,” said Goode.
“We are addressing literacy issues at all age levels, from pre-school age to senior citizens,” said Tennant.
In addition to the Imagination Library project, READ provides Dawson County third graders with their very own dictionary and all graduating eighth graders with a thesaurus.
“We think a thesaurus is a very helpful tool for kids entering high school,” said Tennant.
READ also supports the Adult Learning Center by providing instructors, teaching materials, and covering the cost of GED testing fees for those who cannot afford to pay for the test themselves. READ also awards a $500 scholarship to a GED graduate and a $1,000 scholarship to a graduating Dawson County High School senior who is planning to pursue a post-secondary education.
According to Tennant, promoting health literacy, educating adults on nutrition, exercise, medical care and how to obtain insurance, has become a major priority for READ.
Last spring, during Women’s National Health Week, READ hosted a health literacy seminar.
Health screenings for adults, including senior citizens, were given and information on nutrition, exercise and medical care and insurance were provided free of cost for attendants.
“We seek to make health-related information easier to understand and obtain,” said Tennant.
READ is currently working on obtaining a CLCP status, certified literate community program, from the state for Dawson County.
“All the counties surrounding us and over 60 counties in Georgia have achieved this status. We want to make sure Dawson does the same,” explained Tennant.
According to Tennant, a county must meet several criteria before they are eligible to apply for a CLCP status. Dawson County has completed the application process and awaits several representatives from the state to conduct a site visit in November before the status can be approved.
“The state needs to see that various community leaders and programs support literacy efforts,” said Tennant. “The United Way is one of many organizations in Dawson County that has shown our work tremendous support.”
To find out more information about READ, contact Sue Tennant at (404) 409-8838.