Washougal WA — Books inspire young readers and lay an important foundation for their success in education. Getting books into the hands of Washougal preschool children has been the work of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs Camas-Washougal (GFWC C-W) since 2017. Now, thanks to a very generous $6,000 grant from the Camas-Washougal Community Chest (CWCC) in early March, GFWC C-W will be able to purchase books for all children enrolled in both Washougal and Camas School District Pre-K programs. Extended Learning Coordinators from both districts will be ordering and distributing the books throughout the year.
GFCW C-W’s original program was to reward students for attending a weekly 1-2-3 Grow & Learn session at Hathaway Elementary School. An additional program was created in 2020 to place books into the hands of all children enrolled in Pre-K programs in the Washougal School District. Books are distributed several times each year to preschool programs through WSD Community Education and Developmental preschools, EOCF (HeadStart), ECEAP, and 1,2,3 Learn and Grow.
“We are thrilled and grateful for the generous support that the GFCW CW provides to our early learners in Washougal” said Lisa Young, WSD Extended Learning Manager. “We feel very fortunate that the GFCW CW understands the value that these books provide to our community. We are so fortunate to benefit from their continued commitment to our youngest students and their families.”
“We believe by making books available to young children we are helping to enhance their love of reading and their school readiness skills,” said GFCW C-W Vice President, Susan Bennett.
In 2020 GFCW received a CWCC grant to expand the program to include all children enrolled in Pre-K programs in the Washougal School District. “But due to greater community needs brought on by the pandemic, we, like many local organizations, were asked to return any unspent funds to CWCC for redistribution,” Bennett explained.
Because of the connections that have been established within the school district, books were able to be delivered during the 2019-2020 school year, even though students were engaged in distance learning. Young learners were able to stay engaged by attending online classes. More than 140 children attended virtual classes daily via Zoom that are presented by four Early Care and Education Specialists from ESD 112 who are part of the 1-2-3 Grow & Learn Program. Children throughout Clark County and Washington State attend these daily sessions. Washougal attendees are receiving backpacks full of books through this program. Mid-year books were delivered by school bus to students who attended a specific number of classes.
“We have been reading books to our four-year-old son Luca every day since he was born,” said preschool parent, Willa Bateman, of Camas. “He loves reading books, and he can’t go to bed without a story or two! We are so thankful for the General Federation of Women’s Clubs Camas-Washougal and their Reach for the Stars through Books program. By attending preschool children learn valuable lessons and skills as well as have lots of fun with teachers and classmates. This is a great program to build a strong foundation for young learners!”
Children enrolled in Washougal School District Pre-K programs were awarded books numerous times throughout the year. And at the end of the year, more books were handed out as a reward at the drive through Washougal preschool graduation. Another set of books were given out this fall to students attending the preschool programs.
“CWCC as our main benefactor of the Reach for the Stars Through Books,” said Susan Bennett. “Without the CWCC funding we would not be able to offer this amazing program.”