‘United to Read’ project to reach 6,000 children

By The Editorial Board

The second annual United to Read initiative on Nov. 9 is expected to involve more than 300 volunteers reading a book about giving back to one’s community to 6,000 youngsters in Georgetown, Horry and Williamsburg counties.

United to Read is a joint project of the United Way of Horry County and Black River United Way which serves Georgetown and Williamsburg counties. Both United Way organizations put major emphasis on early childhood education, recognizing the vital importance of reading to learning in school and to successful careers and productive lives.

The BRUW goal is to ensure that 100 percent of 3rd graders read at grade level. During their kindergarten, first- and second-grade years, children are learning to read; then the education emphasis changes to reading to learn. In Georgetown and Williamsburg counties, Growing Great Readers Americorps Program is in five elementary schools for the second year, and has been added at day care centers. The past school year 153 youngsters were in the program and an impressive 144 improved their reading levels.

In Horry County Schools, a similar one-on-one tutoring program is under way in four elementary schools, Lakewood (Myrtle Beach), Socastee, Loris and Daisy (Loris). Julia Nichols, marketing and communications coordinator for United Way of Horry County, said the 26 volunteers are a good start for the pilot program United to Learn. Some of the 26 volunteers were readers for the first United to Read project in 2016.

In the same vein, BRUW executive director Lucy Woodhouse feels this year’s United to Read project has the potential for attracting volunteers for reading initiatives similar to Growing Great Readers.

For Horry County, Nichols has 77 volunteers signed up for Nov. 9, “so we’re half-way there” to the target of 150 for first grade classrooms. From 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., volunteers will read to children the book “Last Stop on Market Street,” by Matt De La Pena. “It’s about a grandmother and grandson on a bus on their way to volunteer at a soup kitchen.” The message or lesson in the story is about the importance of giving back to the community.

Georgetown and Williamsburg volunteers will read in kindergarten, first and second-grade classrooms as well as at day care centers. Yolanda McCray, director of community impact at BRUW, is seeking 175 volunteers and has about 40. The United Way is partnering with Miss Ruby’s Kids at five day care centers and has added the Coastal Montessori Charter School in Pawleys Island. Waccamaw Community Foundation (Carver Fund) is sponsoring United to Read for BRUW.

Community volunteer readers have “an opportunity to take part in an unique experience to celebrate reading,” Nichols said. In addition to providing an enjoyable opportunity for volunteers, helping youngsters read well provides educational and societal values well beyond the children’s understanding. Reading profiency, for example, is a major indicator of becoming a high school graduate, and future career success.

Both United Way organizations, working closely with the school systems of three counties, are properly placing increased emphasis on early childhood education. Volunteers for United to Read will be doing their part in helping thousands of children improve their reading ability – and have a better chance for future productive lives.

How to volunteer

United to Read needs adult volunteers to read to elementary school children in three counties on Nov. 9 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. All volunteers must complete a background check.

Horry County | Volunteers may sign up using mobile phones: text U2READ2017 to 51555

Online | go to www.unitedwayhorry.org and click on “Events”

Phone | 843-347-5195

email | marketing@unitedwayhorry.org (Julia Nichols)

Georgetown, Williamsburg | Volunteers are being asked to bring two cans of corn for Baskervill Food Pantry, Pawleys Island, and Caring & Sharing, Hemingway. Readers may sign up online at www.unitedtoread2017.eventbrite.com

Phone | 843-833-8310 (Yolanda McCray)

email | yolanda@blackriveruw.org