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Read to Succeed: Foundation group brings literacy front and center

Reading is something many take for granted.

But because there are so many who struggle with reading and understanding, the New Richmond Area Community Foundation is working to bring people and local resources together to address those needs.

You may have a friend who struggles reading to their children, or you may know an entire family that has literacy needs but don’t know how best to go about addressing their needs.

Those are a couple of examples as to why the community foundation has formed a “destiny driver” focused on the literacy needs of the area.

Leading the effort for the foundation is Troy Boe, a local realtor, and Heather McAbee, president at Bremer Bank.

“We had a big meeting back in July of 2014 at the Commons, where we divided into groups and called a summit where there were a lot of ideas brought out,” McAbee said. “We wanted to have the most impact to call attention to the need and the resources available. And that’s where the idea of the [Read to Succeed] event was formed.”

And while the schools already work hard in identifying young children who are in need of services, Boe and McAbee said their focus is to cover the entire spectrum — including adults who are in need.

“The idea is that there is Kindergarten readiness, but we’re not losing sight of the entire picture,” McAbee said.

The November event is being designed to bring together those who need services with those who provide.

The event, open to all in the community, will be held Monday, Nov. 14, at the New Richmond High School cafeteria and large forum room. There will be a 5:30 p.m. dinner, followed at 6 p.m. with an address by Melissa Moe of CESA 11, as well as local experts.

In addition, Boe said there would be an opportunity to hear from an individual and tutor who will describe their success story.

“At the end of the event, someone who has gone through a tutoring program will talk about the success of the tutoring program. I’m excited to hear about that,” Boe said.

The dinner is free, as is the child care.

In addition to the dinner and speaker, area groups that will be on hand to provide literature and to help connect services with those who may need them include St. Croix County Public Health Department, West Cap, Birth to 3, Five Loaves, New Richmond Public Library, WITC and the St. Croix Valley Family Resource Center.

So if you or someone you know wants to read more effectively; if there is someone who could benefit from connecting with others and with community resources; if you are concerned your child won’t be ready for school; or if you or someone you know is learning English as a second language — this may be the event that could help you along the way.

“This event is open to anyone interested in literacy,” Boe said. “There will be booths set up and those who are there will be there to answer questions on what can be done … these groups could have a connection for services for certain individuals. There’s a need for literacy at a younger age, but we see the need for adults. There are people in the area who struggle with it.”

“McAbee said, “As our population grows and people are coming in from different language and ethnic backgrounds, this is something that could help.”

The resources are there, both McAbee and Boe agreed. The difficult aspect of the effort is being able to pull more resources together for those who need it.

“As part of this event we are going to try to take out barriers so people feel comfortable attending. We’re providing dinner, providing child care, and providing … to those who really need to be in front of those resources,” Boe said.

For adults, there are issues in coming forward. Maybe they have trouble reading to their children and want help. “There is some embarrassment in all this,” Boe said. “Many want to read to their kids but can’t and are scared to come forward. There’s so much research about reading at the younger ages; it’s so important.”

McAbee agreed.

“We can make a community assessment of the needs and then align resources to help with those needs,” she said.

“With the homeless you can identify those people, but with literacy you can’t. People get by with coping skills and many times you just don’t know. This is about general awareness and getting the word out. It’s an open forum where people can have a meal, ask questions and then they know we are here,” she added.

When it’s all said and done after the Nov. 14 event, Boe said that there will be continuing work by the foundation group.

“Coming out of the event … we’re hoping for general awareness. There are literacy issues going on and this is a good way to connect individuals. Maybe there will be someone there who can help another connect. That’s part of the goal. But moving forward … we will continue to meet monthly. The Little free libraries you see around the community is one of the things we do and we will continue those types of things. But right now, connecting is the primary focus.”

For more information about this event or other resources, email litercynr@gmail.com.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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