Read for L.I.F.E (RFL) was the offspring of Findlay Service League in 1987. After a member noticed that one of her husband’s employees was unable to read, the League researched illiteracy inHancockCountyand estimated five percent (5%) of the population to be functionally illiterate. A Board of Directors was established and Read for L.I.F.E. was established. The first tutor training sessions were held in August 1987, and the first adult learners were matched with tutors in November 1987.
Members of RFL, specifically Ginny Shipps and Gene McEvoy, took charge of the program in its original location above Evans’ Office Equipment. After a successful beginning, Read for L.I.F.E was incorporated in the spring of 1989. A Dorney Grant was awarded in 1990 and steps were taken to hire the first Director.
In July 1993, RFL relocated to its present location on the lower level of the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library, forming a strong community bond in the effort to increase literacy.
Read for L.I.F.E. was given the opportunity to participate in the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation’s Schneider Circle in 2013. The Schneider Circle was aimed at helping to strengthen local nonprofit agencies. Upon hearing that nearly one half of the Administrative Director’s time was spent on fundraising efforts to maintain the program, a Schneider Circle consultant suggested considering a partnership that would make the READ for L.I.F.E. program more sustainable, while also allowing the Administrative Director to focus efforts on the good work of the program instead of fundraising.
During the summer of 2014, the Read for L.I.F.E. Board worked to dissolve the organization as a 501c3, and on August 12, 2014 the library’s Board of Trustees voted to assume the administrative and fiscal responsibilities of the program. The library immediately hired Kristy Szkudlarek, former Read for L.I.F.E. Interim Director, as the first Findlay-Hancock County Public Library Read for L.I.F.E. Administrator.
The library elected not to continue Read for L.I.F.E.’s major fundraisers, the annual Spelling Bee and Purse Bingo events, to allow the program to focus on its mission of providing one-on-one tutoring and tutor training to support adult literacy in Hancock County. At the current time the library is supporting the program through the library’s endowment fund and the general fund.
It is our hope that the Read for L.I.F.E. fund at the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation can grow to sustain the program going forward.
Read for L.I.F.E is a member of the Ohio Literacy Network, ProLiteracy America, Literacy Volunteers of America, and the Hancock County Coordinating Council.