Hello Reach Out and Read MN community,
I am Janice Haines, the "new" Program Manager here at Reach Out and Read Minnesota. I put "new" in quotations, because while I have been with the organization since fall of 2021, I feel I am still getting to know the wide and diverse community that make our program happen statewide. While I haven't had a chance to meet all of you yet, those I have connected with have left a resounding impact. Over the past year, I have been deeply impressed by our clinic providers, clinic staff, our volunteers, and all of our supporters who not only understand the vital importance of supporting our state's learners in their first years of life, but who give their time, energy, and resources to make it happen. I am grateful I get to see the good this program does on a daily basis. Let me share just a brief sampling of what I have heard from our clinics in just the past few months:
“Reach Out and Read is a great program and we are very fortunate to be able to work with them to ensure children are given books!”
-Gundersen Health System, Houston Clinic
“Reach Out and Read makes a difference in our clinic by giving our providers a tool to support family reading and our staff something to help the child feel welcome”
-Neighborhood HealthSource, Fremont Clinic, Minneapolis
“Many times the parents we serve also do not have books or money to buy new books. It is nice to have this program.”
- CentraCare Family Health Center, St. Cloud
Reading each of these quotes brings a big smile to my face. I hope it also brings you joy to know that the program you help support makes such a difference every day at clinics across the state.
In my first full year on staff, I have enjoyed being able to dive into projects and pilots and see them to fruition. However, the greatest highlight for me has been building meaningful and collaborative relationships with our clinics and witnessing our Reach Out and Read Minnesota team grow and thrive. After all, as our work’s research tells us, happy and healthy relationships build a foundation for success. I think that goes for organizations as well as young children!
Our program team has been very busy this past year, and it is challenging not to fill up page after page of the exciting work we have been up to. I will spare you all the information overload for now (check out our annual report for more details) but I want to share just a couple of the year’s biggest accomplishments as briefly as I can.
- We hired a new Program Specialist, Faisa Ali, this spring, which has made our program team stronger than ever! Faisa and I (Twin Cities), Danette Kubit (Rochester) and Cate Belleveau (Bemidji area) have been traveling all across the state to visit and support our clinics.
- Minnesota has been at the forefront of the new Reach Out and Read NICU program, where parents are given weekly books and guidance on how to bond with their newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit. M Health Fairview Masonic Children’s Hospital and Hennepin Healthcare are among the first clinics in the country to start using this program.
- We have brought brand new literacy materials to many of our clinics, including wall decals, bookmarks, posters, and digital reading tip slides for clinic screens.
- We’ve brought gently used books back! We’ve hosted two used book open houses for clinics to pick and choose books to stock their waiting rooms and give out to older siblings and children at their sick visits. Thank you to our volunteers and book donors who make this happen!
- And, saving the best for last…we’ve brought on 18 new clinics in the past year to bring our total to over 300 participating clinics statewide—306 to be exact!
We thank you, the Reach Out and Read Minnesota community, for making this all possible. We profoundly appreciate all who support us financially and with books; our work reaches deep and wide because of your generosity.
We have big plans for 2023, but we'll need our community’s support to accomplish them. I encourage you to consider making a contribution to help us share the brain-building power of books with young children in the year to come.
I wish you a joyful and safe end to your year and a happy beginning to 2023.
Reach Out and Read Minnesota