The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 3, 2013

Jo Ellis: Carthage Literacy Council makes difference at home, as well as New York, Haiti

By Jo Ellis
Globe Columnist

CARTHAGE, Mo. — The concept of “paying it forward” is behind the Carthage Family Literacy Council’s donation of $1,000 to the GO Project, a Manhattan-based nonprofit organization that helps shape the future of low-income children in New York City public schools.

Early last month, the council contacted the GO Project about how to assist families affected by Hurricane Sandy. Cheryle Finley, a board member, said, “This area has received a lot of funding and support since the tornado in Joplin, and it would be nice to pay it forward to the victims of Hurricane Sandy.”

GO Project development director Sadie Slootsky said, “We couldn’t believe that someone from Missouri would be reaching out to us to extend a helping hand.”

Many children affected by the storm were displaced and were without food, water and adequate clothing for days, in addition to losing critical learning time in school.

Slootsky said the ultimate goal is to bring students who are already facing significant learning deficits to grade level in reading and math, and to enable them to develop better social and emotional skills.

The grant will be used to extend the GO Project’s Saturday program for students most in need of additional intervention, Slootsky said.

“It’s wonderful to know that people across the country were thinking of our children and families after such a tragic situation,” she said.

The Family Literacy Council’s outreach extended even further with a $500 donation to the Haitian Episcopal Learning Partnership and a local mission team to promote literacy and primary education in Haiti with the purchase of much-needed books. The funds are being raised locally to buy materials and supplies.

From Feb. 23-March 2, the Imago Dei (Image of God) mission team will work in Haiti to provide medical clinics, build desks for teachers and benches for students, paint buildings, install metal security doors, and present textbooks to students. The team includes members from Grace Episcopal Church in Carthage and All Saints Episcopal Church in Nevada. Dr. Charles Featherly, associated with Mercy McCune-Brooks Hospital, is donating his services as a physician on the trip. The team includes Pam Schaffer, Peggy Ralston, Shirley Pace and Galen Snodgrass, all of Grace Episcopal Church, and Ted Estes, who serves at Grace Church and also is pastor of All Saints Church.

In addition, $500 was donated by the Literacy Council for a scholarship at Missouri Southern State University for a student who wants to major in secondary English or perhaps English as a second language. The council also has donated $1,000 to the Carthage Salvation Army’s backpacks for children program.

The council’s efforts to spread literacy both locally and beyond are supported by generous private donations and the money it raises from various events throughout the year, such as a plant sale set for May 11. Board member Larry Hartman said the council would appreciate suggestions for other types of fundraisers as well as additional board members who support the group’s cause — and who would like to “pay it forward.”

Address correspondence to Jo Ellis, c/o The Joplin Globe, Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802 or email