Meet a few of our families on the Celebration of Reading 2012 video.
Funds from Celebration help support family literacy academies in the southeast that serve parents who agree to work hard in our caring classrooms. To our knowledge our unique network of academies, where parents and children learn together, was the first of its kind in the nation. Launched in 2000 by then-Governor Jeb Bush and modeled after his mother’s Barbara Bush Foundation, this passion to promote reading as a family value has blossomed.
Please meet one our special families: Marife Diaz, Kenisha & Kiarimar
Marife’s youngest daughter, Kiarimar, was born with autism and Joubert syndrome, a very rare genetic disorder which affects both; brain development and physical coordination. Marfie was desperate to give both her children the best opportunity in life.
“In Puerto Rico, I struggled, unable to get the medical, physical and educational help that my special needs child required. So, I made an incredibly difficult decision to leave my family, my job, my home to get her the help she deserved. It was frightening; I was a single mother and I would be on my own with two small children.
We moved to Tampa and faced with challenges that I was not prepared to deal with. We did not speak the language and finding a good job was impossible without the ability to speak or write English.
Kenisha, my oldest daughter, was also struggling with the language barrier and as a result could not keep up with her school work. I felt hopeless because I was not able to help her.
But then I found a sparkle of hope. I enrolled at the family literacy academy hoping to gain the English language skills that I needed to find work, but I received so much more. I quickly met people from different cultures who were facing the same challenges and met excellent teachers. And, even though I had small children and little money, I was able to attend the program because I could bring my daughters along and the classes were provided free. My girls made new friends and were surrounded by caring staff members who gave them educational assistance, as well.
I am proud that now, both my children are making good progress in school and I finished the school year on top of the world! My English greatly improved and I was blessed to be awarded a scholarship at a post-secondary school to continue my education and career goals.
I will be forever thankful to Volunteer USA and all of the heroes, including the Bush Family, who make it possible for people like me to get a second chance in life.
How your Contributions are Helping Families:
- Our parents gain an average of one-and-a-half grade levels each year they are enrolled.
- Their pre-kindergarten children, who enter struggling with English language skills, improve their total language scores to the high-average range within one year.
- Most parents say they are able to help their child with homework and spend more time engaged in educational activities such as visiting the library or volunteering at school.
Celebration of Reading – bringing the joy of literacy to families