‘Handbags for Hope’ To Benefit Literacy

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By Brittany York

Thursday evening will bring more than 300 individuals together for a celebration—not just a celebration in the literal sense with cocktails, food and auction items—but also, and more importantly, a celebration of the stories shared by those who are a testament to the efforts and work being done by the Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati.

HH.HermanThe event, titled Handbags for Hope, is intended to showcase the hope that drives the more than 280,000 individuals in our region who are reading at, or below a fourth-grade level, to better their lives by attending classes or tutoring sessions offered by the LNGC.

Pictured: Literacy Network Executive Director Kathy Ciarla and 2013 Hope Award winner Herman Overby, who learned to read in his 60s so that he would be able to read the Bible to his grandchildren.  This year’s event is Thursday, Jan. 30 at 5:30 p.m. at The Cincinnati Club. Call the LNGC at (513) 621-READ to purchase tickets.

The various classes and programs offered, however, would not be possible if it weren’t for the sponsors and volunteers who dedicate their time and resources to enable the Literacy Network to fulfill its mission and grow its programs.

Last year’s Handbags for Hope raised about $30,000 dollars, which Kim McDermott, director of communications for the LNGC, says enabled far more opportunities for clients throughout this past year than in previous years, since all funds go directly toward programming.

Here are the outcomes that, as sponsors of the event, Charitable Words is not only proud to support, but eager to see continue:

  • The Literacy Network fielded about 1,600 calls through its resource hotline, connecting adults with literacy help and GED training through access to various community organizations.
  • The LNGC offered several basic literacy classes on-site for adults, in addition to classes at a location in Price Hill. Now, and for the first time ever, there’s one in the works for the main branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County and talks of a Madisonville location as well.
  • One-on-one tutoring for children went from 1,100 kids to 1,300 kids and counting.
  • The basic reading program for children is now offered in five classes instead of four.
  • Classes for adults have increased in number, so instead of reaching 70 individuals, the LNGC is now able to reach about 100.
  • About 100 character coaches mentored classrooms full of children through the Literacy Network’s Winners Walk Tall Program.

McDermott (pictured here) says the LNGC is on track to raise about $30,000 dollars again this year, but the need is ongoing.

kim 2“Until we’re meeting the need of every individual who needs our help, I don’t believe our mission is done,” McDermott says. “It really will take a full community effort in every different area—helping the people in ways that others can’t service them.”

With a network of 1,300 tutors and a network of sustainable sponsorship, a community effort is certainly at work.

“Sadly—I wish it wasn’t true—but I don’t think our job will be done anytime in the near future,” McDermott says. “But we can help more and more reach these services.”

Will you join Charitable Words as a partner in the community effort to empower the thousands of children and adults in our community who are labeled as functionally illiterate, so that the numbers of individuals who are full of hope for their futures, can continue to rise?

Brittany York is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati’s Professional Writing and Editing Program, where her studies centered on writing for nonprofits. 


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