Fab 50 Group awards grant to reading program

A program that puts books in the hands of Brown County’s youngest residents has received a $10,000 grant from a local women’s philanthropic group.

The Fabulous 50 Women’s Giving Circle awarded the Brown County Literacy Coalition $10,000 at their annual grant meeting Feb. 15.

Fabulous 50 women each give $200 per year to the giving circle. Each donor writes a cause she would like to support on a slip of paper, and three slips are drawn from a basket to be contenders for that year’s donations. Then, members make pitches to the group about why their nominee is deserving.

Brown County Literacy Coalition, Kids on Wheels and the Brown County Girl Scouts were the three up for grants this year.

KOW won the second-place $5,000 prize. The group will use its funds toward buying land for a skate and teen park in Nashville.

Former literacy coalition board member Julie Winn told the group that children who grow up with at least 20 books in their home, and with a family who reads, reach a higher level of education than those who do not. “That’s data from 27 countries, 70,000 cases, across all socioeconomic ranks. It simply helps children to have books and reading in the home,” Winn said.

“You get as much advantage from that as having highly educated parents, just simply having the access to the books.”

More than 50 percent of children in Brown County are on either free or reduced lunches in school. “Books are something of a luxury for some families,” Winn said.

Winn said the $10,000 will go toward buying books from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library for Brown County children. The literacy coalition runs the imagination library program, which mails a book each month to every registered child under the age of 5.

It costs $13,000 to send 12 books a year to all 550 Brown County children registered, she said.

The literacy coalition wants to create a new endowment at the community foundation to support the imagination library “in a more sustainable way instead of having to fundraise all the time,” Winn said.

The coalition also continues to give free books to people in parades, at the fair and by using free libraries placed throughout the community.

The coalition also helps children learn to read better. About 20 tutors and volunteer readers work with about 26 Brown County students. “When you say, ‘That’s not much,’ that’s right. There’s always a need for more volunteer tutors at the literacy coalition,” Winn said.

Elementary school principals have told the coalition that 60 or more children in kindergarten through third grade are in need of “critical reading intervention.”

“If they don’t know how to read well by then (third grade), they are never going to catch up. It’s just going to be very, very difficult for them in the future,” Winn said.

The Fab 50 group has a history of supporting community causes.

Last year, BETA received the top $10,000 grant, which went toward rent for their new location above Fallen Leaf Bookstore and other costs associated with the program. The Birth to Five Initiative — which focuses on preschool and early childhood education — received $3,000 in second place.

Silver Linings women’s shelter received a $9,000 gift from the women’s giving circle in 2015, and $2,021 went to Project Helping Hands to help build a new home for Mother’s Cupboard and Habitat for Humanity.

In 2014, Access Brown County received $9,000 from the Fab 50 group. It was matched by the Indiana Department of Transportation and helped to sustain the local bus service for another year.

The group also donated 10 percent of its money to an endowment at the Brown County Community Foundation.

Fabulous 50 2018 members

Joan Amati, Kathy Ziliak Anderson, Angela Aumage, Patricia Rhoden Bartels, Carol Bell, Debbie Berryhill, Laura Blackthorn, Shirley Boardman, Rhea Ellen Boley, Barb Bowman, Jennifer Bube, Ann Callahan, Marylin Day, Diane Cantrell, Ellen Carter, Bonnie Closey, Fenella Flinn, Shari Frank, Carrie Foley, Tamra Galm, Brenda Green, Janis Greenlee, Laura Hammack, Deborah Herring, Jenny Johnson, Davie Kean, Brenda Kelley, Debbie Kelley, Sharon Kitchens, Janet Kramer, Jaydene Laros, Karen Bryant Lawrence, Betsy Voss Lease, Peg Lindenlaub, Pat Lloyd, Bev Logterman, Catherine Martin, Mary McInerney, Julie Milloy, Jan Mills, Chris Myers, Letty Newkirk, Donna Niednagel, Wayne O’Hara (for Karen), Donna Ormiston, Kimberly Paarlberg, Carole Page, Delores Percifield, Mary Perez, Rachel Perry, Connie Pockevich, Pam Raider, Kathryn Richardson, Kim Robinson, Pat Robinson, Carol Routh, Joann Rozzi, Terri Schultz, Joyce Shook, Rita Simon, Kathy Smith-Andrew, Mary Ann Soll, Clara Stanley, Jan Swigert, Donna Tackett, Beverly Teach, Susan ThreeHawks, Linda Todd, Jane Weatherford, Linda Welty, Laura Wenzler, Linda Wescott, Julie Winn, Laura Young, Carol Zapapas, Barb Zeig.

Author photo
Suzannah Couch grew up in Brown County, reading the Brown County Democrat. A 2013 Franklin College graduate, she covers business, cops/courts, education and arts/entertainment.