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Shine a Light on Literacy, a birthday celebration for Literacy Action of Central Arkansas, was held Sept. 16 at Next Level Events.

Gallery: Shine a Light on Literacy

Kathy Rateliff was given the Bridget Fennel Farris Outstanding Tutor Award for the work she and a group of women from Westover Hills Presbyterian Church did teaching reading and creative writing to female inmates of the Pulaski County Regional Detention Facility.

"The jail has been an eye-opener for all the little old ladies who go there," said Rateliff, who in her acceptance speech shared stories about female inmates who are reading two classic novels per week, thanks to volunteers' help and encouragement.

Other nominees for the award were Dr. William Cochran, Horace Smith, Karyn Hunter, Jean Moffett and Scott Savoy.

Farris was a longtime tutor and Literacy Action board member who died in June.

Farris' sons, Matt and Greyson, presented the award, along with their uncle, Tom Fennel, Bridget Fennel Farris' brother. Fennel and his band, the Jellies, played during the event.

Tutor Horace Smith told the group that volunteering with Literacy Action is "an opportunity not just for the students to learn from the tutors but for the tutors to learn from the students." Many of the adults who seek help from the tutors speak little or no English but have cultural knowledge to share with those willing to learn, said Smith, encouraging everyone in the room to consider helping. "You feel good -- not about yourself, but about life. It's one of the more difficult things you will do, but it is also one of the more satisfying."

Pulaski Technical College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute provided heavy snacks for the party -- bacon tater tots, mini chicken potpies, beef tenderloin, silver dollar rolls, chocolate truffles, mini verrines and petit fours. Wine was donated by Glazer's, and beer was donated by Arkansas Craft Beer Distributors.

Guests could light floating lanterns for the wishing well for donations of $25 or $125, with that money going toward the organization's core educational programs.

They could also, for a $5 donation, raise their glasses to toast the organization's 30th birthday with event co-chairmen state Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock) and Jessica DeLoach Sabin, and for $20 they could pick from the wine pull.

Silent auction items included resort packages in St. Lucia, The Grenadines, Panama and Antigua; an overnight stay at the Capital Hotel; a private party at the ESSE Purse Museum and Store; and an oil painting by Scott Mattson.

An estimated $27,000 was raised for reading curriculum, tutor training workshops and additional supplies. Literacy Action of Central Arkansas has served more than 550 adult students in the past year, offering more than 8,000 hours of tutoring.

-- Story and photos

by Kimberly Dishongh

High Profile on 09/25/2016

Print Headline: Literacy Action raises money for program, recognizes tutor

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