Women's Association of Verizon Employees Partners With Reach Out and Read to Expand Early Literacy Programs

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Tampa, Florida -- To help improve literacy and strengthen the bond that reading creates between parents and children, an organization representing Verizon's women employees will team up with Reach Out and Read (ROR) to significantly expand ROR's early literacy programs.

Members of the Women's Association of Verizon Employees (WAVE), an employee resource group representing women employees of the nation's largest communications company, will volunteer with ROR programs in the employees' home communities. The volunteers will read to young children in clinic waiting rooms, conduct local book drives and share their professional expertise in areas such as fundraising and event planning. In addition, WAVE chapters will sponsor Scholastic Book Fairs to benefit local ROR programs.

ROR, a national nonprofit organization that promotes early literacy by making books and reading a routine part of pediatric care, and WAVE announced their partnership today at the University of South Florida Ambulatory Pediatric Center in Tampa. The initiative will be formally presented tomorrow to more than 300 WAVE members at their organization's annual meeting, also in Tampa.

WAVE members work for Verizon companies that provide local and long distance telecommunications and SuperPages directories throughout the United States.

ROR stresses the importance of reading aloud to young children and the role of books and reading in a child's healthy development by providing books and literacy guidance to families with children ages six months to five years as a standard part of pediatric primary care. ROR has a presence in all 50 states.

"This relationship perfectly matches WAVE's objectives and further enhances Verizon's position as America's literacy champion," said Janet Stevens, WAVE president and group vice president public affairs -- Verizon Information Services. "It meets our members' desire to support our communities both personally and as an organization. It addresses the crucial need to improve literacy levels among U.S. workers and among Verizon's customer base. And, it allows WAVE to work with a highly respected literacy organization with a unique approach to encouraging reading."

ROR Medical Director and President Perri Klass, M.D., said, "Reach Out and Read depends upon dedicated volunteers -- as readers and to assist with providing books for many programs serving children growing up in poverty. This new partnership is important because of its national reach and because of the enthusiasm and energy within the WAVE organization." Klass is a practicing pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics at the Boston University School of Medicine.

Klass said that research shows that reading aloud to young children is one of the most important things a parent can do to prepare a child to read. ROR programs depend upon volunteer readers to model reading behavior for parents. WAVE volunteers will be able to fill this crucial role in hundreds of clinics in locations where Verizon also has a community presence.

ROR also trains doctors and nurses to advise parents about the importance of reading aloud and to give books to children at pediatric check-ups. This year, ROR will provide 3 million books to 1.5 million children at more than 1,550 hospitals, health centers, and pediatric practices. ROR is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. For more information go to www.reachoutandread.org.

WAVE is a 23-year-old Verizon employee organization with a rich history of community service. With active chapters in California, the Delaware Valley, Florida, Indiana, New England, New York, the Pacific Northwest and Texas, WAVE provides its members with professional and personal development opportunities and serves as a resource to Verizon, providing counsel and support on issues affecting women employees.

Verizon supports communities through a comprehensive national literacy campaign involving corporate philanthropy, community outreach, employee participation and collaboration with major literacy organizations. These programs are designed to increase the literacy of both children and adults and to help people of all ages become computer literate. For more information visit www.verizonreads.net.

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