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Reading Is Fundamental Announces Winners of its 2008 Volunteer of the Year Award

Volunteers in Florida, Wisconsin, and Montana recognized for their literacy efforts

WASHINGTON, June 10, 2008—Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the nation’s oldest and largest children and families’ literacy nonprofit organization, today announced the three recipients of the 2008 Anne Hazard Richardson RIF Volunteer of the Year Award (VOYA), presented by The Coca-Cola Company.

RIF recognizes Michele Greco from the BETA Center in Orlando, Fla.; Carolyn Klema from the Wisconsin Department of Corrections in Prairie du Chien, Wis.; and Roxanne Hovenkotter from the Polson School District No. 23 in Polson, Mont., for their dedication and service as truly outstanding RIF volunteers.

“Among the hundreds of thousands of individuals who volunteer to support RIF book distributions, reading motivational events, and outreach programs across the country, these three individuals demonstrate exceptional service in support of children’s literacy in their communities,” said Carol H. Rasco, RIF president and CEO.

This year’s honorees continue a tradition of more than 40 years of developing new and innovative ways to serve children and parents in the RIF program of their respective communities.

Michele Greco, Orlando, Fla.

Michelle Greco has excelled in implementing RIF’s Shared Beginnings program, which aims to help young parents develop their children’s early language and literacy skills, at the BETA Center. This Orlando-based nonprofit organization focuses on helping at-risk families throughout the area. Greco creates activities in which the adolescent mothers are engaged and, therefore, can engage their babies. She has been very creative in training other RIF volunteers and enabling them to see their contributions come to fruition. She is also establishing an on-site library for the teen mothers.

Carolyn Klema, Prairie du Chien, Wis.

Carolyn Klema has been a RIF volunteer for Prairie du Chien Correctional Institutions’s Shared Beginnings program for three years. She helps inmates learn to read and teaches them the importance of reading to their children. Klema provides children’s books to the inmates so they can practice before reading to their own children. Klema works closely with the inmates to develop and implement reading motivation activities. Prison is not the easiest setting to create a comfortable environment for families, but Klema and her group are able to transform it into a more welcoming, family-oriented place. During the reading time, inmates and their families come together for a positive experience.

Roxanne Hovenkotter, Polson, Mont.

Roxanne Hovenkotter is a dynamic and creative individual who has single-handedly nurtured the RIF program in the Polson School District No. 23, which serves more than 1,000 children from pre-K to 8th grade. She secured financing for a RIF book distribution program that engages the business community and parents, while achieving the goal of motivating the children to read. The Polson community is multicultural—34 percent of the students in this RIF program are Native American. More than 50 percent of the children live in poverty, and yet they achieve proficient reading levels. This success is credited to programs such as RIF and volunteers such as Hovenkotter.

The Anne Hazard Richardson RIF Volunteer of the Year Award was inaugurated in 1997 in tribute to the late Anne Hazard Richardson, who served as RIF’s chairman from 1981 to 1996. The program celebrates the dedication and service of RIF’s truly outstanding volunteers, while also recognizing their contributions to RIF, its mission, and their communities. Award winners will be honored in September at a volunteer celebration, in D.C. For more information about RIF and the Volunteer of the Year Awards, visit http://www.rif.org/coordinators/news-and-events/voya.mspx.

Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF), founded in 1966, motivates children to read by working with them, their parents, and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life. RIF’s highest priority is reaching underserved children from birth to age 8. Through community volunteers in every state and U.S. territory, RIF provides 4.6 million children with 15 million new, free books and literacy resources each year. For more information and to access reading resources, visit RIF’s website at www.rif.org.

 Discover the Joy!

The Coca-Cola Company is the world’s largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 450 sparkling and still brands.  Along with Coca-Cola, recognized as the world’s most valuable brand, the Company’s portfolio includes 12 other billion dollar brands, including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid and Georgia Coffee.  Globally, we are the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, juices and juice drinks and ready-to-drink teas and coffees.  Through the world’s largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy the Company’s beverages at a rate of 1.5 billion servings a day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, our Company is focused on initiatives that protect the environment, conserve resources and enhance the economic development of the communities where we operate.  For more information about our Company, please visit our website at www.thecoca-colacompany.com.

Layla Wright-Contreras,
Media Relations Manager


Reading Is Fundamental Announces Winners of its 2008 Volunteer of the Year Award