Submitted by Rene Carroll
Putting books into the hands of young children to enhance their school readiness skills is a focus of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs Camas-Washougal. Since 2017, their Reach for the Stars through Books program has provided backpacks filled with books and learning materials as an incentive to children and families to attend the ESD 112 “1,2,3 Grow & Learn” pre-kindy program at Hathaway Elementary in Washougal.
GFWC Camas-Washougal Club leaders and Washougal volunteers Susan Bennett and Pat Suggs were honored in late 2020 for their work to spearhead this impactful project. They received recognition and an award from the Learn Here Program which showcases remarkable educational leaders and volunteers in SW Washington.
“We were humbled by this recognition,” said Bennett. “We are proud of our work through the Reaching for The Stars through Books program. It has truly sparked the imagination of children and has started their journey of loving books that we hope will last a lifetime.”
Thanks to increased funding through area grants, their free book distribution has grown to all pre-schoolers in Washougal and will be growing to include all Camas pre-schoolers in 2021. “We know books and reading help build a strong foundation in the early learning process,” said Suggs. “We are excited to see the work of the GFWC to support childhood literacy growing.”
“We applaud Susan, Pat and the GFCW Camas-Washougal for their important work to challenge our youngest learners to rise,” said Mary Templeton, WSD Superintendent.
Bennett and Suggs were celebrated in December 2020 at a 20-minute virtual presentation celebrating 31 staff and volunteers. “We are so appreciative by those who work so diligently in preparing our students,” said Chad Sessions of Real Living, The Real Estate Group. “Through their hard work and creativity, they are helping prepare our next generation of citizens, workers and leaders, which in turn, helps us grow our economy and community.”