The far-reaching implications of their efforts are virtually indisputable, insiders say. Such is life for FeFe Handy, founder and president of Midtown-based nonprofit Page Turners Make Great Learners Inc.
What started out as a creative idea to nudge her daughter toward embracing the written word a decade ago has since morphed into a viable yet still organic entity with partners in relatively high places.
“After many years of working with students and schools, I have come to the realization that what I am doing is planting seeds for future success,” said Handy.
“If I can spark a child’s imagination or interest by introducing them to a pilot or an attorney who has taken an hour of their time to volunteer in one of our read-a-thons, then I have at least ignited hope that they will read more about the subject or possibly work harder in the classroom.”
Advocates of the cause hope to raise awareness of the issue with the third annual 5K Run/Walk for Literacy, hosted by the Literacy Alliance of Metropolitan Atlanta. The event will take place Saturday at 8 a.m. in Grant Park. Registration fees for the Peachtree Road Race qualifier will benefit the organization of the registrant’s choice to support literacy programming and initiatives throughout metro Atlanta.
Youth across metro Atlanta are reaping the benefits of Handy and company’s handiwork. Experience the Wonders of Literacy, a pro-literacy and school supply drive featuring celebrities and media personalities, drew crowds to Cumberland Mall near Vinings back in June.
Page Turners also partnered with Invest Atlanta for a back-to-school block party at the new Atlanta fire station on Hollywood Road over the weekend. Dozens of new backpacks stuffed with school supplies were distributed to deserving children and their families from neighboring communities at the function.
Yet another Page Turners collaboration, with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, yields an annual read-a-thon at local elementary schools. “Her campaign against illiteracy is effective, particularly in lower-income areas such as our schools,” said Carol Gaddis of Handy’s endeavor.
Gaddis is a media and educational technology instructor at Love T. Nolan Elementary in south Fulton County. “It brings exposure to kids who don’t often have the opportunity to engage with the business and cultural communities through reading programs,” she said. “Kids need to know that their world outside of school cares about their literacy development and are actively doing something about it.”
Michael Parisi, a colleague of Handy's from McGuireWoods LLP, is among the growing list of professionals who are heeding her call to join the cause.
”Her enthusiasm is contagious,” Parisi said. ”I make every effort to participate in as many [Page Turners] events as possible and I have witnessed FeFe draw in others to serve as volunteers.
”Exposing students to professionals in the context of literacy events serves to highlight the importance of literacy. The combination of FeFe’s ability to inspire others and the students’ responses to these events are a testament to her effectiveness.”