On Thursday, April 20th, Reach Out and Read Kansas City will be celebrating our 20th anniversary of providing new and developmentally appropriate books to children at their well-child visits with a Birthday Breakfast. Pamela Miller and Michael Cummings, long-time supporters of RORKC, are our honorary hosts for the breakfast. Recently, we sat down with them to talk about how they became involved with RORKC and why they’ve continued their support over the years.
How did you become involved with RORKC?
Pamela: I was working for the Kansas University Endowment Association at the Medical Center when a colleague of mine told us that Reach Out and Read KC launched and we should all volunteer to read. Reading is a great passion of mine so I was excited to be a part of it. It was so great because you would read to the children in the clinics as they were waiting for their appointment. You really got familiar with the children books, which was fun because everyone thought I was an expert, but it’s only because I was sitting with the kids and reading aloud to them.
Michael: My wife [Pamela] became a volunteer reader at the start of the program and I saw how much joy she took from reading to the children and the passion she had for reading, so I became involved as well.
Why did you begin investing in Reach Out & Read Kansas City?
Pamela: I love the fact that the mission brings together both pediatric care and encourages families to experience the love of reading. During the appointment, the doctor can observe the child and their development while they are handling the book. Then they talk to parents about the value of reading and what that can mean for their child’s development and education.
Michael: Reading is so important. It is a gateway to learning and therefore education. We live in a time where it seems that some leaders don’t think reading is important and some people seem to be averse to learning. In order to have a rich and full life in this technological age we live in and the economy it creates, learning and education are critical to life’s success.
Why have you continued your support for RORKC over the years?
Pamela: It’s very personal for me because my parents shared their love of reading with me as a child. One of my favorite memories is walking to the North Kansas City library with my mother every week to go get new books. Then at night, my father read the bedtime stories with me. He has this lovely voice and years later when cancer took away his voice through a laryngectomy, I could still hear it in my memories and my dreams. That is what is so wonderful for parents, being able to have this experience with their children. Children will not just remember reading the book with them. It’s far more than reading a book, it’s more than just words on a page. They are going to remember the snuggling time with their parents, their scent, their voices, the time that their parent took to be with them. These memories will always encourage their children to read. I know whenever I would travel for business if I had time to spare I always went to the local library or bookstore and found something new to read. Reading is something that has always stayed with me.
Michael: Reading is so important. It’s a passion of mine that started in my childhood. My parents somehow scrapped together the money to buy a set of encyclopedias – which was a kind of internet of the time- and it had a set of children’s books. Those books had stories of faraway places and people that really ignited my imagination on rainy days when I couldn’t get outside to play.
Then as a high school freshman, for an assignment, my teacher suggested that I read On the Beach by Nevil Shute. I procrastinated and so I ended up reading the thing all at once. I was caught up in the story and so affected by it. That really fueled my love of stories and reading and that love has continued throughout my entire life.
Thank you to Pamela Miller and Michael Cummings for sharing your love of reading and for your dedicated support of Reach Out and Read Kansas City for the past 20 years!
Join us on Thursday, April 20th, to enjoy cake, singing, and a special toast to the last 20 years at RORKC’s 20th Birthday Breakfast. Purchase Tickets.