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No Gift Too Great or Small

Categories: Activities, Volunteerism

Challenge grants. . .bike races. . .letters to the editor: Learning Ally’s donors and volunteers have a history of creative and interesting ways of giving back and supporting us throughout the year. With the approach of the holidays we celebrate our friends across the U.S., who give all year long in a myriad of ways. Join us in thanking these imaginative thinkers and doers, and we hope to inspire you with examples of their generosity. Maryland-based Naveh Berner-Kadish (pictured below), a remarkable 13-year old Learning Ally member who is dyslexic, took an epic 51-mile fundraising ride on his bike through the mountains of Virginia. Determined to help out by covering hardship waivers for students who cannot afford the cost of an at-home Learning Ally membership, Naveh didn't stop there. Soon afterward, he generated additional funds and raised awareness at his Bar Mitzvah -- personally persuading over 150 friends and family members to write letters to Members of Congress, urging them to restore funding for Learning Ally. As of this writing, the enterprising teenager has brought in 75 gifts totalling over $5,200. Naveh Berner-Kadish, a 13 year old who is dyslexic, on his bicycle in Virginia raising funds for Learning Ally. Phoenix volunteer Pat Bolster gave a presentation about Learning Ally to General Mills managers around the country, by video conference. She brought member Bryan Duarte with her to help tell our story. Pat’s presentation will help spread the word about Learning Ally to a major corporation that could become an ally in more ways than one! Learning Ally donors Nancy and Bill Arrce at homeInland Empire board member emerita and volunteer Nancy Arce and her husband Bill (pictured right) gave a $50,000 gift on the first day of Learning Ally’s name change on April 11, 2011, to challenge the rest of the country for their support. In Santa Barbara, volunteers Pat Jones, Mary Cunningham and Christine Dora bring in homemade goodies “baked with love” to keep up the strength of “the troops.” These thoughtful women consistently give the gift of homemade, freshly baked food throughout the year, to share with other volunteers. In Hollywood, volunteer and veteran educator John Hickam commutes for over two hours each way, three days a week, to give the gift of reading technical books like organic chemistry and physiology – critically-needed subject areas for Learning Ally’s members. In Denver, volunteer Gary Smith reads the always-needed subjects of business and medicine for Learning Ally’s audio textbooks. But Gary continues his giving as a volunteer interviewer for the Veterans History Project, contributing to the audio records that document the personal memories of thousands of U.S. military veterans. Learning Ally volunteer Eileen Neiler wote letters to the editor on behalf of the organizatin in TennesseeIn Tennessee, two volunteers used their ingenuity to help spread the word about Learning Ally in their community. Marijke Brick, a new volunteer to Learning Ally, wrote in The Oak Ridge Observer about her experiences at the Oak Ridge Studio, while also encouraging others to get involved. Long-time volunteer, Eileen Neiler (left in photo at left) recently wrote to the editor of The Oak Ridger about her favorite pastime – reading for Learning Ally. Bob Rosen, a former trial lawyer, described his interesting and rewarding experiences as a volunteer at the Lenox studio in a terrific article published by The Berkshire Eagle. At the Palo Alto studio, Myron Hollister’s gift includes seven assigned shifts each week, for a total of 14 hours per week! Many days he calls in to find if there is a booth open for a stop-by shift. Myron is also a go-to person when celebrity authors drop into the studio. A volunteer at the Learning Ally Boca Raton Studio, who wishes to remain anonymous, has offered a challenge for donations made to the studio until December 31, 2011. The volunteer has promised to match, dollar for dollar, all donations received from volunteers and guests, up to $5,000.00. David Johnson, a volunteer from the Phoenix studio, was instrumental in securing a full-page article about Learning Ally in the program guide that covers the December and January performances of Arizona Theatre Company, Ballet Arizona, Arizona Opera, Phoenix Theatre and Theatre League. The circulation of the program is approximately 100,000 and will be a great help in spreading the word about Learning Ally in the Phoenix area. Texas Board Member Fred Philipson presented a check for $30,000 from his employer, Atkins and The Atkins Foundation, Inc. in support of Learning Ally’s mission. This is just a small sampling of the droves of remarkable people who have supported us this year. We would love to hear from you about your creative support, and hear how you have inspired others in the spirit of this giving season. Please leave your comments below!    - Diane Kelber and Doug Sprei

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