Thursday, March 10, 2011

Save Read Aloud America

Earlier today, I checked my daily mail to find that I received a letter from Read Aloud America.  This program was recently at my eldest son's elementary school... and will circle it's way around (hopefully) in another 2 years.  Normally - I would not go ahead and blog about something like this, but lately... there are so many changes to this program that I had to help & be a voice to support Read Aloud America (RAP).

So - what is RAP?  Rap (or Read Aloud Program), is a program that promotes reading aloud and helps parents and children share great books and build a lifelong love of reading.  This program encourages families to "take time out" from their busy schedules six times during a school semester and meet in the Cafeteria at their school.  The Students are separated into age-level groups to listen to volunteers (parents, teachers, etc.) to listen to stories that are read to them.  While that is taking place, Parents, grandparents, teachers and guardians/caregivers stay back in the cafeteria to relax, while the presenter reads stories, reading tips and chapter books to the Parents.  RAP provides free snacks, drinks and dinner (which we were lucky to get Round Table pizza during our sessions - we certainly know how Pizza is my favorite food), and the evening ends with door prizes, drawings held for those that have been reading and just creating a fun atmosphere for families to spend time together.

This program is designed for families with children... ranging in ages from toddlers to teens.  Not only does it allow the families to spend time together... it also helps to take the stress out of reading...  encouraging families to read together.  Since RAP's start in 1999, it has conducted programs on all of the major Hawaiian Islands (Hawaii) and has attracted an audience of more than 250,000 children and adults, mostly at high-need public schools.  The first sessions of RAP for Spring 2011 has attracted more than 5,000 adults and children.  There has been no other literacy program in America that draws these numbers.  RAP is Federally funded, and the funding it received through the Hawai'i Department of Human Services will end on March 31, 2011 (just a few short weeks away).  Even after such unfortunate news and the huge budget reduction to the RAP program, RAP is determined to keep operating.  This cannot be done alone... as we all know how very important programs take a huge dive or lost because of major funding.

RAP has asked for help from parents whose children have attended the program in the past... and I in turn... am relaying this information to my readers.  Money is definitely tight is an economy that forces us to work 3 or more jobs just to pay the bills... but money is not the only requirement to help this program succeed.  There are several things you can do to help keep this program alive:

- LIKE RAA (RAP) on Facebook.  Liking RAP's Facebook page is FREE and most importantly - it will show our Leaders (Congress, Governor, etc.) that you support a very important program... and we all know that movements and changes are made because of the numbers we have.

- Feeling Green?  Recycle for RAP - From March 1 - June 30, donate the money you receive from your family's HI-5 recyclables to RAA.  And, encourage local businesses to collect these items and do the same.  Please note that RAA cannot accept the recyclables themselves... but you can mail your donations to the following address on Maui:

115 E. Lipoa Stree, #101 - Kihei, HI. 96753

- Step up and Be a Voice - Get together with friends, neighbors and family members with signage that will promote "Saving RAP".  I know it's a bit drastic... but if you want to take the subtle route... display your RAP bumper stickers with pride.

- Donate to RAA online.  You can donate by visiting and clicking on the "DONATE" button.  Your donations are 100% Tax Deductible.

- Write your Leaders.  This one is my favorite.  Writing letters or emails to Hawaii's Governmental leaders will  be a bigger impact than you could ever imagine.  When receiving/reading your letters, leaders will get a strong message about how important and critical RAP is to Hawaii's communities.

The following suggestions for writing this letter came from the RAP program newsletter:

1.)  Explain that you are writing to help save Read Aloud America's Read Aloud Program (RAP) and urge them to allocate funds to RAA.
2.)  Write from your heart.  In your own words, describe what RAP means to you and why you think it is so important.  Discuss personal experiences you had at RAP, describe the energy that people experience when they come to RAP; and/or explain ways RAP has transformed your family's life or your child's experience at school.
3.)  Explain why you think cutting RAP's funding is bad for Hawaii's communities.
4.)  Close by urging them to allocate funds to RAP and thanking them for their attention.
5.)  Keep it to one page, address it to the appropriate address and stick a $0.44 stamp on it.  Personally addressed and stamped envelopes are read most out of all communication government officials receive.
6.)  Follow up every two weeks with an email or phone call, or keep writing letters; repeated communication emphasizes the critical need for RAP.

Here are some addresses -

Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa
238 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515

Congresswoman Mazie Hirono
1410 Longworth HOP
Washinton, DC 20515

DHS Director Patricia McManaman
1390 Miller Street #209
Honolulu, HI. 96813

Governor Neil Abercrombie
State of Hawaii Executive Chambers
415 S. Beretania Street
Honolulu, HI. 96813

Local Legislator's:
(Insert Name)
415 S. Beretania Street
Honolulu, HI. 96813

On a personal note...  I am very lucky - more than 12 years ago I graduated from High School and have a wonderful family today.  I'm always thankful for the experiences I had in my past - the people I have met along the way... and the inspiration or influences that others have made on me.  When I look back at my childhood, I am thankful not only to my parents and family for their guidance - but to the teachers that have helped mold me to be such an honorable person.  They took the time to encourage greatness in me... to make me love school and because of them - reading is so important to me today.  Books are keys to my imagination, to my journeys.  It is so important that our children not only have these same type of inspirations... but that they feed their intellect as well as those ever growing imaginations.  Books are so key in paving the way for our children's bright futures.  This program not only encourages reading - but also encourages family!   Please help out such an important program in our children's lives.  Again - money is great, but there is so much out there that you can do... some of which just takes a few seconds.  Many things are changed in our society and communities because of the numbers of people who speak and stand up for what they believe in.  Help this program... help our children love reading.

In closing - thank you for letting me share this with all of you.  :)

Please note that addresses, websites and some of the verbiage was used from the Read Aloud Program.  Please visit for more information and the companies overview.  Mahalo!

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