June’s Medical Minute

Dear Reach Out and Read KC friends,

This is my third Medical Minute in the Corona era. CORONA is a beautiful word; it means crown in Spanish. Yet, this Corona era has not exactly been beautiful. In the words of Lambrina Kless of National ROR, COVID came and shape-shifted our world. Adapting to this shape-shifted world has been a challenge in so many ways for nearly every human being on the planet – something that’s hard to wrap my head around.  Doctor’s offices mobilized technology for a deep dive into telehealth care delivery, Amazon can’t keep up with the explosion of on-line orders, and many of us struggle to figure out what exactly is safe and what might not be. We wear masks to run our errands, we worry about having enough sanitizer or disinfectant. This site here explains why and how to help children get used to wearing masks.

Our world will be forever changed, and hopefully in some good ways. The stark revealing of huge discrepancies in the lives of people related to housing, food security, health insurance, treatment in health facilities and more has been beyond eye-opening, and hopefully will lead to systemic changes so that ALL people have what they need to feel safe and secure. It seems each day we are learning more about this virus and how it affects people. Thankfully this illness is mild, and most people recover. Children tend to have mild disease, and in fact often have no symptoms at all, despite being infected. Recent reports of an inflammatory illness in children, which can be very severe, and very scary, are also very rare. Please see this resource for information for parents about this condition.

Children during this time are missing important day-to-day interaction with teachers, friends, and grandparents. Educators report they are less worried about the academic delays as the social-emotional delays that may occur due to school closures. Children may struggle to understand why their world has changed so dramatically.  Please remember, snuggling up with a kiddo to share a book is proven to reduce those stress hormones in both child and reader! Continuing to the extent possible routines of bedtimes, mealtimes and book sharing are helpful to children especially in times of stress.

Child advocates worry that more children may be experiencing abuse/neglect as the mandated reporters (teachers, health care providers) are not seeing children. Reports of child abuse / neglect are WAY down, which would not be expected when so many families are under tremendous stress.  If you or someone you know is feeling at the end of their rope, please remind them there is help!  The CHILDHELP National Child Abuse hotline is 1-800-422-4453. Through interpreters available in 170 different languages, the hotline offers crisis intervention, information, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are confidential.

Spring is here, folks are hopefully going outside – walking, playing catch, kicking a soccer ball around, and figuring out driveway or porch gatherings with appropriate physical distancing.  Knowing how to decrease risks while most localities are “opening up” is important. Current guidance is that physical distancing remains very important. Wearing a mask where physical distancing is not possible is recommended for all persons over age 2. Dining outside at a restaurant is safer than dining inside. Limiting who you interact with to people who you know have been wearing their masks, and practicing physical distancing is helpful. Drive by birthday parties and graduation events are the 2020 way of celebrating for now.

The amount of unreliable, unscientific, even dangerous information that goes viral on the internet and certain media outlets is overwhelming! Even selected individuals in the federal government are touting totally unproven, and possibly dangerous remedies or actions. So, most importantly, ONLY PAY ATTENTION TO RELIABLE SOURCES OF INFORMATION: CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics, State/Local Health Departments and your primary care health care providers! Your doctor’s office or hospital is safer than ever due to all the extra efforts in cleaning/sanitizing taking place for COVID prevention. We’ll talk again in July, and see how summer is going, and what might be known for resumption of school. Until then, wash your hands, wear your masks, don’t touch your face!

-Sallie Page-Goertz, MN, APRN, CPNP, IBCLC

Janice’s New Chapter: Opening Book on Retirement After 18 Years

ROR-KC has provided more than 1.2 million books to Kansas City-area children and one person has touched nearly every one of them: our Book Coordinator, Janice Dobbs. Now, after 18 years of dedicated service, Janice is starting a new chapter by retiring from ROR-KC. “I have loved being a part of something that has touched the lives of so many children,” she says. “I will certainly miss the satisfaction that my job has given me.”

A special bookmark in Janice’s Book of Life on her time at ROR-KC has been watching little ones arrive for their doctor’s appointment and looking to their parents saying, ‘Do I get a book today?’

“How awesome is that? They are already connecting their doctor’s visits with the gift of a book,” Janice said.

Janice’s history with ROR-KC goes beyond her 18 years as an employee. Shortly after she and her family moved to Kansas City, one of her son’s friends’ Mom (Laura Gregory) asked her if she would be interested in serving on the KC Reads Community Council. As a former teacher and lover of books, this seemed like the perfect fit. Janice had been serving on the Council for several years when Dr. Jean Harty (then KC Reads Medical Director) approached her about taking a part-time job to oversee the book aspect of the program.

“I had the time, interest and was excited to move into a more ‘hand’s on’ relationship with the program. I find myself fondly remembering the many wonderful people with whom I’ve had the privilege to work. ” Janice said.

More than anything else, Janice says it’s the children who’ve touched her heart. “I am touched as I think about the hundreds of thousands of children who have received the gift of books that I had the privilege to choose. I have been lucky enough to get to deliver waiting room books to some of our clinics throughout the years. The children flock around me and can barely contain themselves as I unload the boxes of gently-used books. I often have lots of “helpers” as I put the books on the shelves! I am sure to give every one of them a book to take home, too.”

She says it’s not just the children who get excited about book deliveries. “I often hear stories of clinic staff getting really excited on new book delivery day. They lovingly go through the boxes of books, knowing that each one represents an opportunity for parents to get early literacy advice from a health-care provider, and for a child to get a brand-new, appropriate book to call their own.” 

Janice’s position has included annual trainings for medical providers at clinics, and she says she hears over and over that they wouldn’t want to do a well-child visit without a book. “Not only is the book helpful when doing a developmental assessment of the child, it can also relax the atmosphere in the exam room,” she says. “The child has something new to focus upon, and the parent then has the opportunity to ask questions and hear advice.” 

As the Book Coordinator, Janice also handled school book drives, and has spoken to many classes over the years.

“I often ask the students if they can tell me exactly how many books they have at their homes, she says. “Of course, there are always a few who think that they can – until I probe a little further and they realize that maybe they didn’t count ALL of their books – like the ones under their bed or in their car! I then tell them that many children DO know how many books they have, because that number is zero. Can you imagine a home without books? Do you have any idea how many books you own?” 

As Janice writes her next chapter, she is hopeful and excited for the future. 

“While COVID-19 has put a hold on some of my plans, I am looking forward to being able to travel more and spend time with my own children and grandchildren in my retirement, and to have the time to get involved with some new volunteer opportunities,” she says. “Until the time comes for traveling and volunteering, I will enjoy finding new places to walk, new books to read, and old sports to watch—can’t get enough of watching the Royals win the World Series, the Chiefs win the Super Bowl or KU win the NCAA National Championship!” 

Below are some closing words from Janice:

Janice holding her famous almond cake! Click here for the delicious recipe.

I will take with me many fond memories and lots of “Seuss-isms” to live by in the next phase of my life. I’d like to close with a quote from Seuss-isms! entitled Expand Your Horizons taken from I Can Read with My Eyes Shut.

The more that you read,
The more that you will know,
The more that you learn,
The more places you’ll go.

Thanks to the entire Reach Out and Read Kansas City community for giving me the opportunity to “go so many places” these past 18 years!

Please continue to take care of this program.

I know I will.

-Janice Dobbs

June 2020 Donor Spotlight: Something Good To Strive For

“Reading is so important—it’s a gateway to learning and education.”-Pamela Miller

As very generous ROR-KC contributors, Pamela Miller and Michael Cummings believe strongly in the work of ROR-KC and the impact it has for the children and families touched by the program.

“What makes the ROR-KC approach different and effective is that medical caregivers encourage parents to read aloud with their children and to have their children see them reading,” Pamela continued. “Just providing them books to read is an incredible gift! And the children get to enjoy a variety of books read by volunteers in clinic waiting rooms during well-child medical visits. As a volunteer myself, I’ve witnessed the joy and natural curiosity children have. We must, must, must encourage and advocate for this!” Pamela said.

Studies show the Reach Out and Read model has a significant effect on parental behavior and attitudes toward reading aloud. Children who participate in the ROR-KC program also demonstrate higher language scores. This impact has been documented in ethnically and economically diverse families throughout the nation.

Pamela says the bonding between parents and children who read together is the bedrock of a strong community, and ROR-KC’s work has positive effects well beyond distributing books in clinics.

“Children who are readers grow up as resilient, informed, independent individuals able to navigate the challenges of life—in fact, they embrace them and make a difference in the lives of others. Children who read grow up to see themselves as equal to others in terms of opportunity and as part of the greater world—not at its mercy. As business leaders have often stated, they can teach employees the required work skills, but they cannot teach critical thinking and effective communication,” she continued. “Not to mention the enjoyment and expansive life that reading, education and training provide on a personal level.”

As avid readers, Pamela and Michael want to ensure the magic, discovery and doors of opportunity opened by reading are available to every family and child in our community.

“Libraries, schools and bookstores can become sanctuaries for children with a challenging home life,” she said. “I was one of those kids. Reading was my safe place and assured me there was something good to keep striving for.” Pamela said.

Recently, the COVID-19 crisis has underscored the importance of the ROR-KC program.

“Children are not at school—so opportunities for reading may be diminished,” she explained. “If children don’t continue to read, their future education will suffer as will their opportunities in life—books are needed! ROR-KC can continue to be that vital link. Books can be provided at wherever children receive wellness and medical services—and ROR-KC can obtain volumes of books at great discounts— through your giving. A modest gift can truly have a transformational impact. Not to mention a family receiving books tells them that you are thinking about them, that you care, that they have value, and that we can get through this—together.” Pamela said.

ROR-KC makes literacy promotion a standard part of pediatric care so that children starting at birth through age five, grow up with access to books and engaged parents, to enter school ready to learn.  We can’t do that without your help and support. Please consider a gift today by clicking here. Thank you for your ongoing support.

New 2020 Tax Benefits

Dear Friend of ROR-KC:

I hope this letter finds you well. My name is Eli Colmenero, and I sit on the Board of Reach Out and Reach-Kansas City and our Books on Tap event committee. During the (typical) work hours, I am a tax associate at a local business advisory firm and wanted to reach out regarding recent changes to the charitable giving landscape.

The role of philanthropy in responding to the current pandemic is critical. Recognizing the public’s increased demand for the services of nonprofits, Congress included special tax rules for charitable giving in The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. In sum, the CARES Act grants unprecedented tax benefits to donors who can give in higher amounts while realizing substantial tax savings.

The CARES Act added an above-the-line deduction for non-itemizing individuals of up to $300 or $600 for joint filers. This new deduction is generally allowable for charitable contributions paid in cash directly to qualifying organizations, like Reach Out and Read Kansas City. The provision is in addition to the standard deduction and may reduce adjusted gross income (“AGI”) that could impact the applicable tax rate and help donors realize significant tax savings.
Donors who intend to itemize in 2020 have now received the ability to utilize charitable giving to eliminate their entire 2020 Federal income tax liability. The CARES Act increased the maximum charitable deduction from 60% of AGI to 100% of AGI for tax year 2020. Generally speaking, these provisions only apply to cash gifts made during 2020, which makes the remainder of 2020 an ideal time to make that gift-of-a-lifetime.
Additionally, the maximum charitable deduction from corporate donors increased from 10% to 25% of AGI for cash gifts made during 2020. Thus, the incentives for the corporate community to partner with Reach Out and Read KC and have an immediate impact on the lives of children in the Kansas City area have never been better.

If you have any questions, I encourage you to reach out to your tax advisor and inquire as to how you or your business may best maximize this opportunity to achieve your giving goals. As we begin to move past this crisis, please consider Reach Out and Read Kansas City for your 2020 charitable giving.
Wishing you the best,
Eli Colmenero