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Admissions associate named RIF volunteer of the year

Apr. 19, 2011, 3:49 PM

Mary Comfort Stevens (Daniel Dubois/Vanderbilt)

Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the nation’s largest children’s literacy nonprofit organization, named Mary Comfort Stevens, an admissions associate at Vanderbilt, as one of three recipients for the 2011 Anne Hazard Richardson RIF Volunteer of the Year Award (VOYA), sponsored by Macy’s, RIF’s lead partner for volunteer engagement.

Stevens is the admissions counselor responsible for Middle Tennessee (students who go to school in Davidson, Williamson, Rutherford, and Montgomery Counties), plus Canada and Africa and serves as the liaison to the Blair School of Music.

Stevens has been a volunteer for RIF for 15 years. An avid reader, she belongs to several book clubs, one of which is devoted to reading children’s literature. Stevens began selecting books for distribution eight years ago and has continued to order the books, unpack shipments and organize them by grade level to make it easier for the volunteers to distribute them to students.

The Book ‘em RIF Nashville program distributes five books to each of the nearly 1,500 elementary school children each year, totaling 7,300 free books given to students. The schools in the program have at least 65 percent of their students qualifying for free or reduced lunch programs. Stevens recruits new volunteers each year, raises money for RIF, and serves on the Board of Directors for Book’em to represent children impacted by the program.

Volunteers are the backbone of RIF programs in communities across the country. VOYA 2011 recognizes the inspiring work of a RIF coordinator, a parent volunteer, and a community volunteer who have donated their time, talents, and energy to help children discover the joy of reading.

The other volunteers include Suzanne Fillmore of Pocatello Head Start in Chubbuck, ID and Patricia Gillespie of Thomas Jefferson High School in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

“Volunteers who go above and beyond to make reading a fun and rewarding experience for children are at the heart of RIF’s success,” said Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of RIF. “I’m honored to recognize thededication and contributions of these volunteers who are working to improve literacy in their communities.”

The 2011 Anne Hazard Richardson RIF Volunteer of the Year Awards are presented by Macy’s, RIF’s lead partner for volunteer engagement. Since 2004, Macy’s customers have helped raise more than $16 million dollars for RIF to support local RIF programs, RIF’s Multicultural Literacy Campaign, and other literacy initiatives.

The 2011 VOYAs, and their nominators, will be recognized during RIF’s Gift of Reading Gala in Washington on May 25.

Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF), founded in 1966, motivates children to read by working with them, their parents, and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life. RIF’s highest priority is reaching underserved children from birth to age 8. Through community volunteers in every state and U.S. territory, RIF provided 4 million children with 15 million new, free books and literacy resources last year.

CONTACT: Melissa Mills, RIF