Washington, DC (May 31, 2011) – The annual Gift of Reading Gala raised nearly $470,000 to benefit RIF programs nationwide. The event took place on May 25th at the historic Mayflower Hotel and brought together distinguished policymakers, as well as corporate and community leaders who share RIF’s vision of a literate America.
For more than 44 years, RIF has provided 380 million free books to 33 million children. In March 2011, Congress and President Obama passed a bill that eliminated federal funding for RIF which significantly affects the organization’s ability to continue providing 15 million books to 4 million children each year.
“The theme of this year’s gala was there’s more to the story, and we are honored to see the outpouring of support towards our mission,” said Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of RIF. “As we move forward, RIF is committed to continuing its legacy of providing books to the millions of underserved children in this country.”
UGI Utilities, Inc. was presented with RIF’s Legacy of Literacy award for the company’s outstanding commitment to children’s literacy. For two decades, UGI Utilities has been supporting more than 50 school districts and 200 schools, serving more than 16,000 first-grade students each year by providing more than 50,000 books annually. To date, UGI has distributed more than one million books to more than 300,000 children since the partnership began in February 1991. In addition, more than 500 employees volunteer at RIF-UGI book distributions to encourage children to become lifelong readers.
RIF also honored three dedicated and outstanding volunteers with the prestigious Anne Hazard Richardson Volunteer of the Year Award (VOYA) presented by Macy’s. This year’s winners are: Suzanne Fillmore of Pocatello Head Start in Chubbuck, ID; Patricia Gillespie of Thomas Jefferson High School in Council Bluffs, IA; and Mary Comfort Stevens of the Book’em RIF program in Nashville, Tenn.
In gala tradition, Dr. Valoria Baylor, who is retiring after 42 years as an educator and most recently as principal of Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in D.C., read The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds as the goodnight story. The story highlighted the event’s theme by inspiring attendees to help all children make their mark in the world.