Kasper Award for Exceptional Service awarded

Grant Awarded for Real Men Read Program

This month Big Brothers Big Sisters of NE Indiana received the Blessed Mary Catherine Kasper Award for Exceptional Service to lower income, vulnerable individuals through a literacy enrichment program from The St. Joseph Community Health Foundation. The award is $1,500 towards the Real Men Read program.

These awards are given to agencies that typically do not qualify for the Foundation’s regular health and wellness grants, but who provide exceptional service and/or basic needs for the poor in Allen County.

Blessed Catherine Kasper was born in 1820 in Dernbach, Germany. Though poor in earthly goods, social standing, and formal education, she was rich in compassion and love for the poor and sick, and her mind was alert to the needs of the day. With only $1.50 in her pocket, she built a Center from which she nursed the sick of her village and in which she provided a home for a widow and eight orphans. Other women began joining her work and established the Congregation of Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ in 1851. The religious community has continued to grow and prosper. Today, Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ minister in Germany, England, the Netherlands, India, Mexico, Brazil, and the United States. In recognition of the work Mary Catherine Kasper began and continues to inspire around the world, Pope Paul VI gave her the title “Blessed” on April 16, 1978.

The Real Men Read program is where a positive male role model reads to children where kids may never see a man read.  Nearly One-fourth (23.7%) of America’s children live in mother-only families.1 Real Men Read volunteers provide a positive male role model to 2nd and 3rd grade students by making 5 visits to the classroom throughout the school year to read a book and engage the students’ interest in reading. This program is partially supported by a grant from the St Joseph Community Health Foundation.

Books for Children: Two-thirds of America’s children living in poverty have no books at home.2 Each child in the Real Men Read program receives their own books to keep. Since the program began in 2009, over 160,000 books have been given to children in Allen County.

The presence of books in the home has a greater influence on a child’s level of education than does the parent’s income, nationality, or level of education.3

Through the 3rd grade, students are learning to read; after 3rd grade they are reading to learn; it is important to engage these students and enforce with them the importance of reading. In 2013 22.1% of 3rd grade students in FWCS and EACS did not pass the English/Language Arts portion of the ISTEP and 14.1% did not pass the IREAD exam. 79% of teachers agree that the RMR program is helping students achieve a higher literacy performance. Real Men Read serves all of Fort Wayne Community Schools & East Allen Co Schools:  Cedarville, Heritage, New Haven Primary, New Haven Intermediate, Prince Chapman, Southwick and Woodlan Primary.

BBBS is very grateful for this opportunity from The St. Joseph Community Health Foundation.

1. US Census Bureau 2013 2. http://www.rif.org/us/about/literacy-issues.htm 3. Evans,M.D.R.,etal. Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility (2010), doi:10.1016/j.rssm.2010.01.002 4. http://www.rif.org/us/about/literacy-issues.htm

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