Friday, May 9, 2008

Read to Grow grows, thanks to a teen who knows the importance of books

Alexandra Bailin, 16, of Woodbridge recently received the Youth Volunteer Award from the Greater New Haven Association of Volunteer Administrators at the AVA’s 11th Annual Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast. Bailin, shown at right with Jean Caron, Read to Grow’s development director, was recognized for her service at Read to Grow, a statewide nonprofit organization based in Branford that promotes early literacy for children in Connecticut, officials said in a statement.
A junior at Hopkins School in New Haven, Bailin conceived of and initiated the first Read to Grow Club in the state, with the help of schoolmates Hilary Hoffman and Emily Weyler, officials said. The club’s purpose is to educate the Hopkins community about literacy issues and to provide support for Read to Grow’s programs through book drives and other events. So far, the club has donated hundreds of gently used books that the organization redistributes to children in need. This month, students will participate in the club’s second annual walk-a-thon on the Hopkins campus to raise money for Read to Grow.
Bailin first became aware of Read to Grow through her parents, Susannah and David, while she was preparing to become a Bat Mitzvah, officials said. She learned that many Connecticut children grow up without books of their own and was moved to help. In celebration of her milestone event, Bailin asked her friends to make donations to the organization. Then she decided to volunteer her time.
Last summer, Bailin developed and published a guide for others who are interested in forming their own Read to Grow Club chapter. The guide, available at no cost from Read to Grow, is a “how-to manual” and provides suggestions of projects that clubs could execute. Continuing her commitment, this summer Bailin plans to contact other schools in the state to interest them in the guide and in starting their own Read to Grow Club.

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