Lucky. That’s how I hoped the owners of Anna Maria Oyster Bar (AMOB) would feel when I attended a Suncoast Summer Book Challenge training at their restaurant. The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR) has implemented the Suncoast Summer Book Challenge in Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte counties. I was there to introduce myself as their Engagement Team Member, ready to help assist and guide them as they participate in the Suncoast Summer Book Challenge. I hoped they would feel lucky. They have “me!” After all, I’m super-excited to be there, really motivated to help them, and I am attentive and responsive. I hoped they would pick-up on my level of commitment and feel lucky to have me.
As I looked around the room, full of volunteers to help AMOB with their five Dive Into Reading camps, I was amazed at the amount of work that already went into this undertaking. More than 125 volunteers are helping AMOB touch 350 children’s lives this summer. I listened as the owners of AMOB, Amanda and John Horne, addressed the room with amazing and inspiring words. The room was captivated by their passion for this project. Their passion was addictive, which is why there were so many volunteers willing to give up their summer mornings to nurture and read with Manatee County children. I started to change my original position and realized that “I” was the lucky one. Because I get to work with this amazing group!
I like putting puzzles together. How did we all end up in this room? It was the generosity of The Patterson Foundation that the Suncoast Summer Book Challenge was even possible. Then there are Engagement Team Members (that’s me) who support this program and help it run smoothly. Then you add a couple of community passionaries, Amanda and John Horne, who in turn recruited 125 volunteers, and there you have it! Our room! A Village! Yes, I said it – a Village. I’m sure you are familiar with the phrase, “it takes a village,” but have you ever experienced a village? I did! On a Sunday afternoon in May!
This community of people is coming together to support summer reading in Manatee County so that our community children do not fall behind with their grade-level reading over the summer. Our children are also lucky. In the end, it is all of us who benefit. And this “village” knows this.
So, the answer to my original question, “Who’s lucky?” I AM! – and the children participating in the Dive into Reading Program are too!