The READ Association of Saginaw County is proud to announce the launch of the Carolyn R. Otto Family Literacy Center with a Grand Opening/Ribbon-Cutting on November 10th from 4-6PM at 100 S. Jefferson Ave. Suite 202.

“For 56 years we’ve had volunteers in the schools reading with and mentoring children but COVID has made us rethink our strategies. The last two and a half years have left many of our kids reading behind grade level. Now more than ever, our services are needed. The goal of the Carolyn R. Otto Family Reading Center to try to make up ground lost in the classroom due to the pandemic,” says Cynthia Pape, Executive Director of READ Association of Saginaw County.

Carolyn R. Otto was passionate about her community and served it well. She was the first female Vice President of Second National Bank where she worked for 37 years. Carolyn was also involved in many local organizations and was very generous with her time and support, even giving anonymously when she saw a need. Because of Carolyn’s generosity, the READ Association received funds through her trust to begin this new literacy project for the community. This legacy program will provide free reading services to children and families throughout Saginaw County, positively affecting many lives for years to come. READ will offer weekly Story Time for young families, Parent Workshops to share literacy information and connections to the community, free tutoring for struggling readers using the Barton Reading & Spelling System, and the family literacy program Raising Readers Academy.

Additionally, STARS and the READ Association of Saginaw County have partnered to provide transportation to families attending programming at the Carolyn R. Otto Family Literacy Center. The STARS Board approved a resolution in October of 2021 that dedicates $100,000 from CARES Act funding to be earmarked to be used to transport children and families to the Carolyn R. Otto Family Reading Center. Two rounds of CARES Act Funding from the federal government has allowed STARS to keep the doors open and continue offering essential transportation during the pandemic. In addition to allowing them to waive fares and avoid layoffs, the funding also allowed STARS to invest in air sanitation systems for vehicles and facilities.
“Support from STARS is monumental and means that hopefully transportation will not be a barrier in families accessing this program,” says Mrs. Pape.

“STARS has a wonderful and close relationship with READ. Saginaw County was hit hard as a direct result of the COVID pandemic. The community needs to come together to help get our kids back on track,“ says STARS Executive Director Glenn Steffens, adding, “Hats off to READ for organizing this great program. We’re proud to support this great cause.”

The transportation fund pledged by STARS will cover nearly 7,000 READ trips through the STARS Rides to Wellness program.