FROM LEFT: Debbie Daggett, Cindy Doolan, Julie Fraser, Pat Palmer,Nancy Martson, Chris Lehay and Genie Fields and Paula Paladino.

FROM LEFT: Debbie Daggett, Cindy Doolan, Julie Fraser, Pat Palmer,Nancy Martson, Chris Lehay and Genie Fields and Paula Paladino.

FREEPORT

On April 28th, Freeport Community Services’ Read to Succeed program was a recipient of the ADVOCATE Award for Best Small Organization at the United Way of Greater Portland’s 2017 United We Thrive celebration held at the Westin Portland Harborview in downtown Portland. Over 200 people attended the inaugural event that included the presentation of awards in a variety of categories including the Advocate Award.

Now in its 8th year, Read To Succeed of Freeport and Pownal is an outreach literacy program that recruits, trains and places volunteer readers into daycare homes in an effort to promote the love of books and lifelong literacy skills in preschool children. Because most home-based day care providers are not able to bring the large number of children in their care to the library, the program brings the library experience to them.

Read To Succeed’s goals are:

• To introduce reading and literature to a greater number of preschoolers and their families;

• To act as an advocate and resource for information to childcare providers, linking them to a variety of quality childcare resources available in the community;

• To mentor reading to children and to childcare providers.

Seventy zippered canvas bookbags, donated by L. L. Bean, hold 10 library-bound pre-school-age books each. Read To Succeed partners with the Freeport Public Library to choose age-appropriate books specifically for use in this program. The bookbags are housed at the Freeport Community Center — volunteer readers have access to the bookbags from 8–5 p.m., Monday through Friday each week.

After being matched with a local daycare provider, volunteer readers visit the community center on a weekly basis to choose a bookbag. The reader brings the bookbag to the childcare home, reads to the children from the bag (anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour’s time) and then leaves the bookbag with the provider so that the children have access to the books all week long. The previous week’s bookbag is picked up and returned to the office at the end of each reading session. The volunteer readers are encouraged to grow their relationship with the providers and children by adding their own personalities and special touches to their weekly reading sessions. They can include music and sing-alongs, puppets, as well as, crafts, color pages and art projects.

This program has been introduced to seven Maine communities.

“The volunteer readers love this program as much as the children do, and the childcare providers are thrilled with the program as well,” said Debbie Daggett, FCS volunteer coordinator. “I attribute 100 percent of the success of Read To Succeed to the happy collaboration of readers, childcare providers and of course, the children they serve,”

The Freeport Rotary Club, supporters of Read to Succeed, purchase preschool picture books and step-up-to reading books in their quest to help with early learning. Also, from time to time, one of the Freeport Community Librarians will drop by, carrying a box of new books for the community center.

In addition to this year’s United Way of Greater Portland’s ADVOCATE Award, Read to Succeed was also a part of National Service Nation Week events during the year that Freeport Community Services was Maine’s service leader for the Service Nation organization. As part of Service Nation’s national family literacy conference in Boston, Read To Succeed was recognized as one of the excellent literacy programs.

Community Night

FCS is hosting its annual Community Night on May 17 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and the public is invited to attend. Last year, FCS in conjunction with Freeport Housing Trust conducted the Low- Moderate Income Population Needs Assessment for Freeport and Pownal and recently released the results of this report.

This year’s Community Night will focus on the six themes that were identified as unmet needs in the report. They include: keeping seniors home, transportation, food insecurity, decent affordable housing, health care and no money for emergencies. To receive a copy of the full assessment and to register for the community night, visit www.fcsmaine.org or call Kim Hudak at (207) 865-3985 ext. 202. Due to space limitations, registration will be accepted through May 15.


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