City of Seneca, South CarolinaFriday, June 22, 2018

Current News

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2016 has been a very busy year for BabyRead!



2016 has been a very busy year for BabyRead!
Family Readers are currently working with sixteen families, many of whom joined BabyRead this year. Some of our little ones have “graduated” while others have left the program for a variety of reasons such as families moving away from the area or a mom who went to work or to school. Two families have been in our program for well over 1 year. Another family has been with BabyRead for 8 months. Overall, there is a lot of transience in our families and lapses in attending twice monthly reading sessions are common.






We are receiving very positive feedback from all of our families, both those currently in the program and those who formerly participated. We believe we are making a real difference in the lives of these babies and toddlers and their parents and siblings. Often, the whole family gets involved in reading. We have observed the following development among BabyRead babies:
* The babies’ attention span increases slowly;
* They learn to love books and develop a love of having books read to them;
* They associate reading with comfort and attention as they usually sit either on our volunteers’ or their parents’ laps;
* They learn how books work: that the words describe the pictures, how the pages turn, and how to hold books. Even these simple things are new experiences for these children;
* They learn a wide array of sounds, phonetic awareness, grammatical structures in their native language and many words not commonly encountered in their “conversations” with their parents.


After our families are in BabyRead for six reading sessions, we give them a CD player and CDs of lullabies, nursery rhymes and songs to help their babies and toddlers develop phonetic awareness and the many other language skills that come from listening and singing along with the CD. Of course, we also continue to give them a free book and free snack at each reading session.

In addition to working with individual families, some of our volunteers have been reading to thirty-two infants and toddlers in four classrooms at Early Head Start in downtown Seneca since March 2016. After a thirty-minute orientation session, BabyRead volunteers are invited to “drop in” on Monday and Thursdays to read to the little ones. In addition to taking our own books to read, we have given a book to each child to take home during the summer and start their very own “library”. Additionally, Early Head Start has its own books in its classrooms.



We are working on a public awareness campaign throughout 2016 and 2017 to make Oconee County residents more aware of the need to read to babies from birth and to become more familiar with BabyRead and its mission. In addition to my regular radio appearances on “City Talk” (WSNW, Seneca) and “Community Sound Off” (WGOG, Walhalla), we have been featured in the Journal, Keowee Courier (several articles), Keowee Life, the Keowee Key’s Scuttlebutt (on a monthly basis I write articles on BabyRead), Newcomers’ Newsletter, and Lake Living. During 2016, the Journal has provided us with “front page” coverage in their Lifestyle section while Lake Living did a lovely four-page article including color photos of one of our families and several of our volunteers. Finally, we are placing posters in many store windows throughout Oconee County, asking the question, “Have You Read to Your Baby Today?” and providing some information about the benefits of doing so.

We have also begun an active campaign to recruit new volunteers to BabyRead with a two-pronged approach: (1) Local churches are being asked to include a request for BabyRead volunteers in their Sunday bulletins; and (2) we have distributed posters making a plea for volunteers, posting them in local shops and restaurants. This is proving very productive - we have gotten 5 or more new readers this way. If you are interested in asking your church to post our bulletin, contact babyread@charter.net.

Keep in mind that there is transience in our volunteers as well as our families. Our volunteers are of an age where they get sick, or their husbands get sick, or they move away to be with their children. So we are continually in need of new volunteers and especially new readers. Our web site has become a source of some new volunteers which is exciting. Please visit our web site, if you have not done so.

We published our first quarterly newsletter in April and then again in August 2016. Hopefully this will continue regularly.

In July, BabyRead hosted a morning coffee at Brews on the Alley for a Greenville author, Susan M. Boyer. BabyRead benefitted financially, we spread the word
about our organization and we recruited two new Family Readers during this event.

I have given fewer speeches this year than last year, although I am always eager to do so. I gave a talk to the Walhalla Junior Woman’s Club in mid-September and have one planned for the Walhalla Rotary Club in late September. I have a short presentation for Newcomers Club of the Foothills planned for early November and one for the Graduate Club of the Foothills at Duke Energy in January 2017. If you are looking for a speaker, please keep me in mind. Again, contact: babyread@charter.net

Obviously, the cost of giving away many books, CD players, and CDs, and printing posters, flyers, and newsletters is significantly greater for 2016 than it was in 2015, so our fundraising committee continues to work hard at finding sources for funds. We have reapplied for a grant from the Dreyfus Foundation Inc., which we were awarded last year. We are also applying to both Duke Energy and the Seneca Rotary Club (2017) for grants. We participated in Belk’s Charity Day Sale this past May and will do so again in November. And we continue to receive donations from individuals.

We are so thankful for our many volunteers who serve in a variety of ways and for our caring and dedicated supporters. Thank you for your continued interest in and support of BabyRead.





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