Reading Is Fundamental's 2010 Volunteer of the Year Award Recipients Involve Communities in Literacy Efforts
Volunteers in Iowa, Michigan, and New Mexico recognized
WASHINGTON, April 6, 2010—Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the nation's oldest and largest children and families' literacy nonprofit organization, announced its three recipients of the 2010 Anne Hazard Richardson RIF Volunteer of the Year Award (VOYA), sponsored by Macy's, RIF's lead partner for volunteer engagement.
Volunteers are the backbone of RIF programs in communities across America. VOYA 2010 recognizes the inspiring work of a RIF coordinator, a parent volunteer, and a community volunteer who have donated their time, talents, and energy to help children discover the joy of reading. RIF is proud to recognize the following volunteers for their dedication and service as truly outstanding RIF volunteers: Donna Koch of the Cedar Rapids Friends of the Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Matt Jones of the Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency Head Start in Petoskey, Mich.; and Annette Montoya of the Taos Public Library in Taos, N.M..
"In communities across the country, many thousands of individuals support free book distributions and reading motivation events in RIF programs," said Carol H. Rasco, RIF president and CEO. "RIF volunteers, such as the ones we recognize today, help mobilize these communities in support of children's literacy."
Donna Koch—Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Thanks to the Friends of the Library RIF program at the Cedar Rapids Public Library, more than 1,300 children are able to choose a variety of books to add to their home libraries. Friends of the Library has been serving Cedar Rapids children and families by promoting literacy through different outreach programs like RIF, while conducting fundraising activities in order to bring free books to low-income children at 21 different sites. Koch is a lifelong advocate for children's literacy, having served the Cedar Rapids community as an educator and media specialist for more than 60 years and a RIF volunteer for the past 17 years. Today, the RIF program is a critical resource for the Cedar Rapids Public Library, which was destroyed in the Cedar Rapids flood of 2008, and allows the library to continue providing literacy resources to low-income children and families in the community.
Matt Jones—Petoskey, Michigan
The RIF program at the Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency Head Start (NMCAA) is considered the agency's cornerstone of early literacy programming. A recent parent survey indicates that families believe the RIF program is critical to their children's literacy development and reading motivation. As a dedicated parent volunteer, Jones served on the agency's Parent Policy Council and became a vocal supporter of the RIF program's book distributions and promotion of early literacy. He created a special family literacy event, now an annual tradition at the agency, which provides families with high-quality books and literacy resources, in addition to RIF books. As a concerned parent volunteer, Jones became acutely aware of the NMCAA's need to raise local matching funds during a time of unprecedented economic crisis in Michigan, a state hit hard by the recent economic downturn. Therefore, with local contributors unable to support the RIF program as in previous years, Jones submitted and was awarded a special grant through his employer, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, to meet NMCAA's local match. For the past five years, Jones's volunteer efforts have brought RIF books to nearly 1,500 children at 45 sites across northwest Michigan.
Annette Montoya—Taos, New Mexico
For the past 20 years, the Taos Public Library RIF program has provided high-quality books to low-income children whose parents are unable to purchase books for their families. Montoya, who has served as the library's RIF coordinator for the past six years, is now seeing RIF parents, who participated in the program as RIF kids, bringing their children to experience the joy of reading in a library setting. A native of Taos, Montoya attended school in the Taos Municipal School system. After graduating from Taos High School, she was hired to be the assistant children's librarian in 1995. As one of two employees in the children's section, Montoya developed her library skills while working under the children's librarian, who saw great potential in her assistant and trained Montoya to operate a children's library and manage the RIF program. In 2004, Montoya was promoted to children's librarian and since then, has excelled in the management of the children's section and bringing high-quality books to the children and families in Taos.
This year's honorees continue a tradition of more than 40 years of developing new and innovative ways to serve children and parents in the RIF programs of their respective communities.
The 2010 Anne Hazard Richardson RIF Volunteer of the Year Awards are presented by Macy's, RIF's lead partner for volunteer engagement. Since 2004, Macy's customers have helped raise more than $13 million dollars for RIF to support local RIF programs, RIF's Multicultural Literacy Campaign, and other literacy initiatives.
"Giving back is one of Macy's core values," said Robin Reibel, Group Vice President for Cause Marketing and Media Relations for Macy's. "We are proud to partner with RIF to recognize the inspiring work of RIF coordinators and volunteers who donate their time, talents, and energy to motivate children to read."
The 2010 VOYAs, and their nominators, will be recognized during RIF's Gift of Reading Gala in Washington on May 26.
For more information about RIF and the Volunteer of the Year Awards, visit www.rif.org/voya.
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 4.5 million children with 16 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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