Read to Lead

Running into my friend Jan at the gala.

I’m a board member and former lunchtime reader with the non-profit literacy organization, Everybody Wins! Iowa and I’m proud to have been a part of the recent tenth anniversary celebration gala, “Read to Lead”. This fabulous event was held at Des Moines’ historical (and beautiful) Salisbury House. The event acted somewhat as a fundraiser for Everybody Wins! Iowa, but mostly it was an awareness effort in celebration of having started serving 15 struggling readers in 2002 to now serving 375 kids in the Des Moines area. Happy tenth anniversary!

Getting ready for the program.

The evening kicked off with nearly 200 people in attendance. My husband Luke and I were lucky enough to be greeting at the door at the time Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) arrived. Sen. Harkin was pivotal in helping to launch our needed in-school reading programs here in Iowa after he had been reading with a student every week while in Washington.

Guests were treated to delicious Hors d’oeuvres and beverages while they were welcomed to explore the 1920’s house modeled after the King’s House in Salisbury, England. Iowa authors were scattered throughout the massive building to sign books and chat about the importance of reading. Fabulous musicians were also planted throughout the house. The program started shortly after 7:30 after the rain stopped. The Central College drummers were there for some wonderful Caribbean-influenced music.

Private tours of the library which houses one of the largest rare book collections in the world.

Brooke Bouma (also a board member) of WHO-TV was our emcee for the evening. She welcomed speakers Amanda Fletcher, Everybody Wins! Iowa Executive Director; Erin Kiernan, WHO-TV anchor and volunteer reader; Olivia Matthews, National Everybody Wins! USA Executive Director, Sen. Tom Harkin; and Lee Konfrst, our board president. It was a goosebump-raising moment knowing that our reading and mentoring efforts for elementary students over the past ten years have not only grown in numbers, but more importantly that we’ve impacted the lives of those “numbers.” Reading is such an important skill to achieve by the time you leave elementary school and it is my goal that we will continue to expand and influence throughout the state.

Program from the gala.

Thanks to the students in the Central College PR class that took the lead on planning this event for us. Thanks to everyone who came out to support the cause of literacy. And, thanks also to the sponsors of this event: Century Link, Gateway Market, Hy-Vee, Kum & Go, MidAmerican Energy, Mid-America Publishing and Whitfield & Eddy, P.L.C.

Lastly, if you are in the Des Moines area and are looking for a way to serve the community, you can read with a child ONE HOUR per week! That’s just one lunch hour spent changing a life each week of the school year.

If you’re unable to volunteer or live outside the Des Moines area and still want to contribute, we are a non-profit that survives mostly on individual giving, corporate sponsorships and grants, etc. Please consider a donation today. It truly is an honor to be part of a “Read to Lead” mission.


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