A $25,000 check presentation is made to the Library Foundation of Martin County. From left are Jennifer Salas, Martin County Library System director; Terry Dick, library Volunteer Manager; Michael Kenny, LFMC executive director; Robert Kung, Mariner Sands Charity Week chairman; Pat Ditmars, LFMC board member; and Jack Flanagan, Charity Week committee member.


STUART – A $25,000 grant raised during Mariner Sands Charity Week will kick off a pilot literacy program for families from the Golden Gate area of Stuart.

The grant to the Library Foundation of Martin County underwrites the cost of certified teachers and supplies for an August-to-May twice weekly program to be held at the Golden Gate Center for Enrichment. The goal is to provide 3- and 4-year old children with pre-literacy skills in preparation for kindergarten.

This program differs from standard voluntary pre-K education because the family members also participate in the lessons. “Some families do not enroll their children in voluntary pre-K programs because of transportation issues or because they are not comfortable with the child entering a school setting that young,” said Martin County Library System Director Jennifer Salas.

“We will be providing family activity bags to extend the lessons at home, as well as sending home a set of age-appropriate books for the family to keep,” said Salas. Translators will be provided for Spanish-speaking parents.

“When I learned about the Golden Gate community and the potential of offering a literacy program for some of the families there, it excited me so much that I knew I needed to go out and find the funding for it,” said Pat Ditmars. Ditmars serves on the Library Foundation board and is a past member of the Mariner Sands Board of Governors. Her experience with both organizations led her to believe a match could be made.

“Mariner Sands has many people who wholeheartedly support our library system but who didn’t realize that libraries and literacy programs are so different today,” said Ditmars. “The Charity Week committee was astonished when they heard about what the library does from Jenn Salas and Foundation Executive Director Michael Kenny; even those people who go to the library every week themselves were amazed at all the programs.”

“Mariner Sands Charity Week’s mission is to help needs-based charities. With this program, we wanted to try to break the cycle of poverty,” said Bob Kung, the current chairman of Charity Week. “Funding this program broadens Charity Week’s mission statement to include changing the cycle of poverty. A great way to do that is to teach literacy skills to preschool children. We support Indiantown-focused programs and have been learning more about the needs of the Golden Gate area, which is an even closer neighbor.”

Families will be selected for the program with the assistance of House of Hope, a nonprofit that is very active in serving Golden Gate, said Salas. Assessments will be done of the children at the beginning and end of the program. Adults with concerns about their own literacy skills can also obtain help at the Golden Gate Center through a different program.

Charity Week is a volunteer organization made up of Mariner Sands Country Club members. It is the Treasure Coast’s largest residential community contributor to basic needs charities in Martin County. Since 2012, Charity Week has funded over $2 million for local nonprofits, focusing on providing food, clothing, shelter and education to those in need. For more information, visit http://www.marinersandscharityweek.org.

This article was distributed through Treasure Coast Business, a news service for the readers and advertisers of Indian River Magazine.