TROY — Children who learn to read learn to succeed. With that thought in mind, Trojans Ethan and Ali Martin opened the doors to Reading for Change at 123 E. Main St., Troy, in May 2015. The organization’s mission is to “be a safe and welcoming, yet challenging environment, where students are gifted the opportunity to improve their literacy and life skills.” Troy Rotarians toured the facility and learned about the history, mission, objectives, successes and challenges of this seven-month-old labor of love during the club’s Jan. 12 meeting.
Ali, an elementary teacher by training, had a vision of serving children in need through improving their literacy and learning skills. It is essential to instill the value of reading at an early age. There is a strong correlation between early literacy, learning aptitude and incarceration. Thanks to a generous benefactor who supported the idea of Reading for Change, the Martins were able to set up the East Main Street location. Today, the program is open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:45-6 p.m. It hosts 14 students in grades first through third from several of the local elementary schools and representing all demographics in Troy. Their clientele has grown, thanks to word-of-mouth and teacher referrals. Two retired teachers volunteer as tutors, and two teen leaders coordinate the movement between eight learning stations during each session. The Martins’ goal is to add a program on Tuesdays and Thursdays in a few months. The organization is funded entirely by private business and individual donations as well as in-kind services. Reading for Change has set up an arrangement with the St. Patrick Soup Kitchen on North Mulberry Street to allow the children, and their families, who need dinner to walk the short distance to the Soup Kitchen after the session has ended. With such dedication and focus, the children enrolled in the program to become readers today will become leaders tomorrow. For more information on Reading for Change, visit www.readingforchange.com.
Troy Rotarians, and the Troy Rotary Foundation, support several community projects annually. In 2014-15, more than $16,000 in scholarships and community aid was distributed from the fund, including support for the annual Shoe Project, Troy After Prom and sponsorships to summer camps at Brukner Nature Center and Waco Air Museum. Club members are always looking for new topics to share at weekly meetings. If you are interested in presenting your business or organization, visit the Troy Rotary website at www.troyohiorotary.org and submit your information in the “Contact Us” section. Troy Rotary is a member-involved, goal-oriented service club focused on socio/economic issues that have an impact both locally and internationally. You can follow their activities on Facebook at Troy Rotary Club.