Photo Caption: During United Way’s Nassau County Campaign Kickoff, Fernandina Beach Mayor Arlene Filkoff captures the imaginations of Island Academy preschoolers. Her animated pirate accompaniment, Heath Hollabaugh, is an on-loan United Way community builder from Publix. United Way is seeking ReadingPals volunteers in Fernandina Beach and Callahan who are passionate about inspiring the love of reading. Call (904) 390-3267 for more information.
Fernandina Beach, FL – Fernandina Beach Mayor Arlene Filkoff captured the attentions and vivid imaginations of 25 Island Academy preschool children, plus 120 attendees, during United Way’s Nassau County Campaign Kickoff. The event featured Mayor Filkoff reading a lively pirate tale to the audience, as an engaging “imaginary” pirate mirrored her words, illustrating how United Way’s Success By 6 and ReadingPals initiatives make a difference in the lives of children by sparking their interest in reading.
CA McDonald, 2012 United Way Board of Directors member and Rayonier general manager, lead the kickoff that highlighted how United Way is creating positive, sustainable change in Nassau County by focusing on the building blocks of a better life: education, income and health.
“We all win when a child succeeds in school,” said McDonald. “And when families have the tools, such as United Way’s Success By 6 scholarships that help children receive the early learning skills they need, we all win as a community.”
United Way’s Success By 6 is a partnership with The Early Learning Coalition of Clay, Nassau, Baker and Bradford counties and Episcopal Children’s Services that provides two-year early learning scholarships for three-year-olds. The children are placed in high-quality early education centers and receive two years of full-day education and care.
As Mayor Filkoff and the animated pirate, Heath Hollabaugh, an on-loan United Way community builder from Publix, entertained the Island Academy students with the pirate-theme story, kickoff attendees witnessed the power of ReadingPals, a new early literacy initiative that helps children get ready for kindergarten. Island Academy is Nassau County’s first ReadingPals site.
Mayor Filkoff’s engaging and entertaining approach exemplified how simply reading a book to pre-kindergarteners will improve their literacy and language skills. The children gleefully interacted with her and the pirate character, proudly shouting answers and even adding a few of their own humorous observations!
“We have seven Success By 6 scholarships still available in Nassau County,” said Jan Morse, United Way’s director of childhood and youth strategies. “These grants help hard-working families who need assistance providing quality preschool for their children. Since Success By 6 began in 2007, more than 631 preschoolers have received scholarships.”
Each year, nearly 18,000 Nassau County residents’ lives are improved through United Way-funded programs such as Success By 6, including preschoolers, at-risk youth, people with disabilities, senior citizens, local families and many others. There are 11 Nassau County-based agencies and a total of 44 United Way-funded programs located in Duval and Nassau counties that assist Nassau County residents.
Three Success By 6 centers are located in Nassau County: Island Academy and Lamb Christian Day Care in Fernandina Beach, and Building Blocks Academy in Callahan. To learn more about Success By 6 and ReadingPals, contact Morse at (904) 390-3267. For more information on how to start a workplace or individual campaign, contact Dyar at (904) 390-3239.
United Way of Northeast Florida works to create real, long-lasting change in Northeast Florida by focusing on the building blocks for a good life — education, income and health. In partnership with volunteers, community organizations and leaders, United Way is advancing the common good by creating opportunities to improve lives in Northeast Florida. United Way’s Born Learning, ReadingPals. Success By 6, Achievers For Life and Full Service Schools initiatives are a community-based approach to removing barriers to academic success. In addition, United Way leads United Way 2-1-1, a 24/7 information referral hotline serving nine counties and Life: Act 2, a pro-active response to senior independence. For more information, call 904-390-3200 or visit www.LiveUnitedNortheastFlorida.org.