Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Monrovia Library - Literacy Program Aimed At All Ages Holds Fiesta Fundraiser

Literacy Program Aimed At All Ages Holds Fiesta Fundraiser
Arcadia Weekly: May 8, 2006 by Jennifer MacDonald

Monrovia Reads hosted the second annual "Cinco de Mayo" themed fundraiser at the Krikorian Movie Theatre on Monday, May 1.

About 150 residents, city leaders and school staff attended the event, which raised about $7,000 through entrance, alcohol and raffle ticket sales. This is one of two major fundraisers that helps to fund the organization. The other is the Spaghetti Western themed event held in the October.

The "low-key" affair took place in the upstairs of the movie theatre where guests socialized over margaritas, "taquitos" and guacamole, all the while raising money for the grassroots organization aimed at increasing literacy among children, teens and adults.

"Monrovia is responsive to literacy programs and anything that involves supporting our youth," said Joanne Spring, president of Monrovia Reads.

The group funds and organizes a variety of literacy programs.

One program is the literacy van, which is like a mobile library. It goes to places in the community and hosts a story time with themes and activities that targets children of all ages. The van will soon hold books for adults who can't get to the library.

For newborns to high school students, book giveaways are performed many times a year to encourage reading.

"One goal is to make sure every child entering school has a personal library of five books," said Monrovia Mayor Rob Hammond, who helped come up with the idea for the organization. "When you read you can learn and when you can learn you can succeed."

There is also a minigrant program that provides teachers a set of books for their students to keep and use for class.

"Read Across Monrovia" is another program aimed at elementary school students, which brings in adults who are residents, city leaders or from businesses in the community to read to classes.

Another prog ram helps cover the costs for the 40 tutors in the school district.

One-on-one sessions are held at the library to teach adults to read.

There is also a large adult education program held at the Monrovia Adult School that teaches English as second as language and adult literacy programs.

The idea for Monrovia Reads was originally hatched by representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, city council and Monrovia Unified School District six years ago during brainstorming sessions to discuss how the community could address literacy.

"It was done so we have an entity that focuses on our community being 100 percent literate," said Hammond.

The organization received a $500,000 state funded grant when it was started which ended last August. Now, the group relies on its two fundraisers and individual donations to continue to operate.

Linda Proctor, city clerk for the city, described how she has seen the difference these programs make in the city.

"I see adults looking for help that were too embarrassed to look for help before," she said while munching on a chips and salsa. "I see kids that are ready for school."