March 9, 2021
By Julie Capaldi, President, United Way of Pickens County
This Saturday, I ran into Ingle’s in Pickens. Of course, most everyone wore masks. I saw someone who looked familiar. Since all of this COVID craziness, I have become even more assertive and called out her name. I was sporting my cute flower mask and dark sunglasses. She didn’t have a clue who I was. I announced myself. “Hey, it’s Julie Capaldi!”
“I think your idea of a virtual luncheon is priceless”, she said. It took me a minute to figure out what she meant. She was referring to United Way of Pickens County’s “Lunchtime for Literacy” virtual event on March 25 at noon.
Our Women United annual luncheon has become quite a hit with Pickens County’s awesome women who care deeply for early literacy education. Last year’s event sold out with a waiting list. Talk about excited! My colleague, Jennifer Shurley and her committee of amazing women worked so hard for weeks to make this event a success. Jane Robelot from WYFF News 4 was to be our keynote speaker. She was prepared and it was going to be perfect.
I don’t have to tell you what happened. COVID-19. How could we, in good conscience, take a chance on spreading the coronavirus? What took months to plan was dismantled in three days. It was like a punch in the gut. Fortunately, for the kiddos and their families we support, the sponsors and most of the ticket holders donated the money to this year’s Preschool Pages program. There are no words to thank them enough for such commitment and generosity.
What IS Preschool Pages?
Preschool Pages is a partnership with local elementary schools to support the development of early reading skills in preschoolers in the Pickens County. Young children and their caregivers participate in story time and related crafts around one special book. The reading and activities help these young learners develop important early literacy skills. And … they learn that school is a safe and nurturing place. Parents and grandparents tell us that their preschoolers are on fire about reading and they have seen so much improvement!
Why is “Early” Literacy Important in Pickens County?
Approximately 67% of Pickens County kindergartners tested “Not Ready” at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. Because 80% of brain development happens in the first three years of life, these early experiences with books, stories, and words make a difference in student success.
The pandemic has really affected children and school, but our educators and families are strong in their belief that reading is so important and have done everything in their power to keep Preschool Pages on track.
The Show Will Go On!
We are SO excited about this year’s “virtual” lunchtime event that our amazing Women United is hosting. Jane Robelot, with WYFF News 4 is finally going make that keynote speech she worked so hard on last year. And, we will bring awareness to the importance of Preschool Pages and the power of women. Tickets are $25 and on sale now. Visit our website, www.uwpickens.org/luncheon and sign up. Everyone is welcome and it will be an experience you will not forget.
We would like to invite every woman in Pickens County to join Women United and advocate for a generation of children who love reading, excel in school and have the brightest future ever. The cost to join is the purchase of one book for one future reader! It is the best deal ever.