WEST HARTFORD, CONN. (November 9, 2017) – Children's Reading Partners welcomed new Co-Chairs Rona Gollob and Robin Landau and bid a fond farewell to Founding Chair Naomi Cohen at its annual Fall Kickoff event on November 1 at the Mandell JCC in West Hartford. The program featured guest speaker Jacquelyn Santiago, Chief Operating Officer of COMPASS Youth Collaborative. Santiago shared her story of growing up economically disadvantaged and explained how positive, caring relationships help at-risk children and youth learn and thrive.
Founded in 1998 as the Hartford Jewish Coalition for Literacy, Children’s Reading Partners pairs volunteers with at-risk preschool and elementary school students for weekly reading sessions that improve literacy and promote a love of reading. A program of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, in 2016 its name was changed to Children’s Reading Partners to more accurately reflect that it engages volunteers and serves elementary school students from all backgrounds and faiths. Last year, 332 volunteers and 515 students from 13 public schools participated.
Founding Chair Naomi Cohen, who has led the program for the past 19 years, has devoted more than four decades to volunteering and working professionally at the national, state and local level on behalf of students and quality education. But she notes that “The most rewarding work is mentoring young readers through Children’s Reading Partners. To help an at-risk student improve his comprehension, understand that books are a banquet of ideas, and appreciate that reading matters for successes in life is what making a difference is all about.”
Incoming Co-Chairs Rona Gollob and Robin Landau look forward to building on Cohen’s strong foundation. Gollob is beginning her 19th year volunteering with Children’s Reading Partners, mainly at Thirman Milner School in Hartford’s North End. “I have always considered it a privilege to work with two or three children each year. I have enjoyed seeing them improve their reading skills,” she says.
Landau is beginning her third year working with students at Milner School through Children's Reading Partners. “I'm excited to continue working with a fourth-grader who I met when she was in second grade,” she notes. “I’ve also volunteered with Milner's summer reading program, Freedom School. Working with the students at Milner has been incredibly rewarding and has increased my awareness of and interest in our greater community.”
Children’s Reading Partners is an affiliate of the National Jewish Coalition for Literacy. Major grant funding is provided by the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford, SBM Charitable Foundation, the Stocker Foundation, Trifecta Environmental, the Jeffrey P. Ossen Family Foundation, the Kinder Morgan Foundation, People’s United Community Foundation, George A. & Grace L. Long Foundation at Bank of America, and the Samuel Roskin Trust at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.
PHOTO CAPTION: At its Fall Kickoff on November 1, 2017, Children’s Reading Partners welcomed new Co-Chairs Rona Gollob (left) and Robin Landau (center) and recognized Founding Chair Naomi Cohen (right).