For the first time in two years, members of the Patricia Hart Society recently gathered at the Embassy Suites in Franklin for the Hart to Heart Luncheon, an annual event that, like many others, has been canceled for the past two years.
This year’s Hart to Heart luncheon highlighted the literacy projects of the Patricia Hart Society. There was a panel of guest speakers as well as a silent auction.
“We realize that giving to an area will multiply the impact,” said Lucibeth Mayberry, event chair.
Since 2005, the Patricia Hart Society, a women’s initiative of the United Way, has been dedicated to improving life in the community by using the strength, experience and resources of women to create an avenue in which women can make a difference.
This year, the group is focusing on improving the lives and futures of young children by improving their reading skills and literacy rates.
“For decades, the United Way community has literally recognized the importance of literacy in the early years of a child’s life, when the brain is developing,” said Erica Mitchell, executive vice president and chief Community Impact of United Way of Greater Nashville.
Over the past 10 years, Franklin Special School District and Williamson County Schools have achieved better results through their Ready to Read and Raise Your Hand programs, which use volunteers to help students improve their literacy. in reading and math.
Imagination Library of Middle Tennessee puts books in the hands of children from birth to age 5 every month to inspire a love of reading. In 2021, the Bibliothèque de l’Imaginaire distributed more than 463,000 books to more than 41,000 children.
According to Apri Gassaway, director of education at United Way of Greater Nashville, 70% of incarcerated adults cannot read at the fourth grade level. A literary projection showed that two-thirds of children who do not read in fourth grade end up in prison or on public assistance.
“The support we provide today sets the stage and the platform for adulthood,” Mitchell said.
Rather than a guest speaker, the event committee invited five people passionate about education to speak about the importance of ensuring all children have the opportunity to succeed. News 2 Chief Meteorologist Danielle Breezy served as moderator for the panel, which included Gassaway, News 2’s “Good Morning Nashville” co-anchor Nikki Burdine, FSSD curriculum supervisor and the Professional Learning Summer Carlton, WCS Superintendent Jason Golden and James Pond, President of the Governor’s Foundation for Early Literacy.
Carlton said it was important for children to be exposed to books as early as possible
“It’s important for children to be exposed to the vocabulary, culture and experiences that books provide,” she said. “Those who are not exposed do not acquire the rich vocabulary provided by the books. Books revive them when they enter school and can make a child’s life much richer.
Golden talked about fundamental skills, especially phonics, “which are the foundation of everything we do,” he said.
“Nothing replaces time spent with a child reading,” he added. “They learn to recognize relationships between sounds. … The programs provide tools for parents to prepare their children.
While in fourth grade, Pond said he did not read at the grade level. It caught the attention of a professor who knew how to make reading interesting. Today, reading is a passion he shares with his children and grandchildren.
“The past two years have taught us a lot,” Pond said. “Each of us has a parent, grandparent, friend or caregiver — they are a child’s first teacher. They provide the opportunity to enrich and challenge children, to transform lives and, ultimately, society. »
Proceeds raised from the auction and donations will benefit children’s reading initiatives in Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Hickman, Robertson and Williamson counties served by the United Way of Greater Nashville.