WOODSTOCK, GA (Nov. 18, 2022) – Ferst Readers of Cherokee County can provide books to more than 130 children in the county for a year thanks to the Towne Lake Rotary Club Foundation’s donation of nearly $5,000.
Julia Johnson, a member of the Ferst Readers Cherokee County Action Team, attended the Nov. 17 Rotary Club of Towne Lake meeting to accept a check on behalf of the nonprofit and shared her passion for Ferst Readers and education. Towne Lake Rotary issued part of the donation several months ago during a time of critical need, and on Thursday, presented the remainder of the donation for a total of $4,730.
“Basic Education and Literacy is one of the seven areas of focus for Rotary International. We feel it’s important that we look right here in our own community to ensure the children in Cherokee County are supported,” said Club President Jim Klynman.
Ferst Readers was started by Robin Ferst in Madison, Georgia in 1999 after hearing from a plant executive who was having difficulty finding employees who could read at the level required to be hired. Ferst made it her mission to introduce children to reading early, and the nonprofit, Ferst Readers, was born. The program provides age-appropriate books and a corresponding newsletter to children ages birth to 5 years old every month. In Cherokee County, 240 children receive Ferst Readers’s services.
“Towne Lake Rotary’s support has allowed the 240 children in Cherokee County to continue to receive books without interruption [suspension] while we are in the restructuring phase of our local, volunteer Community Action Team,” said Michelle Maddox, program manager for Ferst Readers. “Having sufficient funds allows those children to continue to grow their love of reading each month with a brand-new book. Many parents say they love the selections because they are ones they wouldn’t have selected, but surprisingly enjoyed them as much as their child. The Club’s support has also allowed our local volunteers time to reach out to the community in hopes to establish a team who can keep the program sustainable for years to come.”
Johnson, a local elementary school teacher, found Ferst Readers by happenstance, and through Ferst has been able to continue to fuel her passion for education and literacy.
“I found Ferst Readers by chance on the Cherokee Connect website. My son is grown, and I wanted to start writing my second chapter. I wanted to volunteer. The Ferst Readers logo caught my eye. I clicked on it and learned about their work with literacy,” Johnson said. “As a teacher, I know the importance of empowering parents to be their child’s first teacher. Ferst Readers does that by providing books and newsletter/resource guides to arm parents with the tools they need to help their children. I knew this was the organization for me. Meeting Michelle Maddox, program manager, was the cherry on top. Her enthusiasm and love for Ferst Readers inspired me to share my love of reading.”
Johnston told the Club they are looking for more Community Action Team members. To sign up or learn more, fill out the Ferst Readers Volunteer Interest form online.
Rotary International is sectioned by zones and districts. District 6910 encompasses 50 counties in the northern and eastern areas of Georgia, including Cherokee. Every year, each Club as part of Rotarians’ dues contribute to the annual fund. Fifty percent of the donations to the annual fund from District 6910 come back to the district three years later to assist clubs. Clubs must apply and get approved for district grants and match the funding. In 2022, the Towne Lake Rotary Club Foundation’s award was $2,240, which the Club matched at 100 percent. A Towne Lake Rotarian provided an additional $250 as part of the donation.
The Towne Lake Rotary Foundation is funded by annual events like the recent 7th Annual Glowball Golf Tournament held at Towne Hill Hills Golf Club on Nov. 4. The event raised more than $7,000 for the Towne Lake Rotary Foundation.
To learn more about the Rotary Club of Towne Lake and how you can support the Towne Lake Rotary Foundation, please visit townelakerotary.org. To learn more about Ferst Readers, visit ferstreaders.org.
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About the Rotary Club of Towne Lake
The Rotary Club of Towne Lake meets every Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. at the Tavern at Towne Lake. The Club performs community service throughout the year, including monthly food box deliveries from Never Alone to Colbert Square. The Club’s main fundraiser for the Towne Lake Rotary Club Foundation, a 501c3, is held each November at the Towne Lake Hills Golf Club. Learn more at townelakerotary.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TowneLakeRotary on Instagram and Facebook.
Pictured above: Ferst Readers Cherokee Community Action Team Member Julia Johnson accepts the check from Rotary Club of Towne Lake President Jim Klynman.
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