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November 8, 2016

Reading Partners Colorado fundraiser helping kids to excel

Originally published by The Denver Post
By Joanne Davidson

You can’t blame organizers of a first-time event for agonizing over every last detail, especially in a city like Denver where the competition is stiff:

Will supporters like the venue, the entertainment and the food? Is the ticket price too high or too low? How many other events are being held the same night?

The folks at Reading Partners Colorado obviously put considerable thought into their first fundraiser, because after all was said and done, the Road to Reading dinner and auction wound up with a capacity crowd income that surpassed expectations.

Road to Reading, at Denver Botanic Gardens, began with a Catering by Design buffet that featured such treats as short rib waffles, Mediterranean chicken salad, spicy vegetable pot stickers and meatballs in a chipotle cream sauce.
Afterward, auctioneer Jim Berz got the program off to a lively start with a spirited game of Heads or Tails before taking bids on items that ranged from a trip to Woodinville, Wash., to visit the Chateau Ste. Michelle and Matthews wineries to serving as Principal for the Day at Dora Moore Elementary School, a job otherwise held by Reading Partners Colorado board member Karen Barker.

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Mentor of the Year Sharon Broome.

The evening, emceed by Tom Mustin, an anchor at CBS4, also included presentation of the Mentor of the Year award to Sharon Broome, who spends six volunteer hours a week at Kaiser Elementary School, and remarks by Maceo Sandoval, a Reading Partners participant from Dora Moore Elementary.

His volunteer tutor, attorney David Klibaner, said that when he and Maceo first met, the youngster was “a bit shy and nervous about his reading skills, but eager to learn.” Today, Maceo is reading books from start to finish — and enjoying them.

“Maceo is one of the most kind, empathetic and funny kids I have ever met,” Klibaner added, noting that “Helping kids achieve proficiency in reading is good for all of us.”
Maceo told guests that Reading Partners “Made me smarter and taught me so many words. I now see the true beauty of reading.”

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Cindy Westergaard, left, and Sarah Davis are members of the Reading Partners board.

The $82,589 raised that night will enable Reading Partners Colorado to continue — and expand — its programs that help youngsters improve their reading skills and become lifelong learners. Reading Partners Colorado, under the direction of executive director Margie Thirlby, opened in 2012. Since that time, its 700 volunteers have delivered 68,000 hours of one-on-one literacy tutoring to 2,500 students in nine Denver public schools.
Nationally, Reading Partners has a presence in 200 schools in low-income communities across nine states and the District of Columbia.

Board chair Kara Williams helped Thirlby welcome a crowd that included Dale and Greg Smith; Lorii Rabinowitz; Karen and Reed Windbourn with her mom, Ruth Wells; Lucas and Devin Holub; and Robert Rosenthal, chairman of the organization’s tutor advisory board.

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