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Reading Is Fundamental Announces Winners of its 10th Annual Volunteer of the Year Award

WASHINGTON, April 19, 2007 — In honor of National Volunteer Week, Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) today announced the three honorees of its 10th Annual Anne Richardson RIF Volunteer of the Year Award. RIF recognized Lisa Mertz of Sunbury, Pa.; Lucy Her Many Horses of Rosebud, S.D.; and Oscar Cux of Hawthorne, Calif. for their donation of time, talent, and energy to children's literacy.

"RIF could not exist without the efforts of volunteers like this year's winners," said Carol H. Rasco, RIF's president and CEO. "These individuals not only share RIF’s goal of fostering children's literacy throughout the country, but they work tirelessly to ensure that we achieve that goal. We are thankful to them and to all of our volunteers for their many hours devoted to helping our youth discover the joy of reading."

RIF volunteers have a long history of developing new and innovative ways to serve RIF, children and their respective communities. This year's awardees continue this tradition.

  • Community: A key to reading motivation...
    Lisa Mertz believes the most successful reading motivation programs involve the entire community. For more than 15 years, as a RIF program coordinator, she has involved school staff, administrators, high school students and teachers, parents, local business owners, and anyone who had something to offer "her kids." Her efforts have resulted in highly successful distribution events that most recently included a visit by four race car drivers and their race cars. The drivers discussed racing and the importance of reading. "I use every source I have," Mertz stated. "The worst that can happen is that the person will say 'no', but when they say 'yes,' doors of opportunity are opened for my kids."
  • Reading: A path out of poverty...
    Lucy Her Many Horses, an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, became a RIF program coordinator as a direct result of her efforts to combat the poverty that has plagued the Rosebud Reservation for generations. A community advocate and doctor, Her Many Horses saw the urgent need to make family literacy a priority on the reservation. She took it upon herself to research RIF, become the program volunteer coordinator, and enroll the Todd County School District's 11 schools in the RIF program. "If children grow up being read to and learning to read themselves, there is nothing they cannot do," she stated. "If a child can read, there is no limit to what they can accomplish. And just as important, children who read will hopefully grow up to be parents who read to their children, and the cycle will go on." As RIF program coordinator, Her Many Horses is director of the "Reading Across the Rosebud Book Van," which distributes books to the geographically isolated communities of Todd County during the summer.
  • From Guatemala to "A Community of Readers"
    Oscar Cux knows what it's like for the students at Huerta Elementary School who often lack reading role models. As a child growing up in Guatemala, he did not have access to many books, and sadly reading wasn’t a priority for his family. Despite this challenge, Cux has sought to turn Huerta Elementary School into a community of readers by reaching out to both the students and their families. Since joining Huerta Elementary five years ago, Cux has reorganized the library and created a warm space suitable for quiet reading, RIF distributions, and read-alouds featuring Cux as any number of lively characters equipped with costumes, props and silly voices. Cux has also reached out to parents, many of whom have literacy issues themselves, by establishing a reading program specifically for them. By training parents and helping them integrate reading into their family's daily lives, Cux offers new opportunities for parents and children to read together.

The Anne Richardson RIF Volunteer of the Year Award was inaugurated in 1997 in tribute to the late Anne Hazard Richardson, who served as RIF’s chairman from 1981 to 1996. The program celebrates the dedication and service of RIF’s truly outstanding volunteers, while also recognizing their contributions to RIF, its mission, and their communities. Award winners will be honored at RIF's Annual Gala in Washington, D.C., in September. For more information about RIF and the Volunteer of the Year Awards, visit www.rif.org/voya.

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Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF), founded in 1966, motivates children to read by working with them, their parents, and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life. RIF’s highest priority is reaching underserved children from birth to age 8. Through community volunteers in every state and U.S. territory, RIF provides 4.6 million children with 15 million new, free books and literacy resources each year. For more information and to access reading resources, visit RIF’s website at www.rif.org.

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For more information, contact:
Layla Wright-Contreras,
Media Relations Manager
202-536-3528

Reading Is Fundamental Announces Winners of its 10th Annual Volunteer of the Year Award