Planting the seed for a love of reading

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When Wayne Ginsburg of Woodland first heard about Ashland Reads from his daughter who lived in Ashland, Oregon, he wanted to bring the program to Woodland. So he connected with Lori Ross, a former student of his at the helm of Woodland United Way, to create Woodland Kids Read and Dream.

“I thought that maybe I could leave the idea with Lori and run away, but somehow that didn’t work, so I’m still heavily involved,” Wayne said laughing.

Though Woodland United Way merged with United Way California Capital Region last year, Woodland Kids Read has remained a critical program of United Way. Through the program, first grade classrooms across Woodland are given five books to read – at the end, each child chooses his or her favorite of the five. A few months later at a reading celebration, United Way’s Woodland Kids Read program gives each child a hardbound copy of his or her chosen book – complete with his or her name in a bookplate. 

“We hope we can plant a seed in each of these children that reading is important,” Wayne said. “Reading lets our imagination go on its own and not be tied to an image on a screen. Human beings have a fantastic imagination, and a lot of practical problems require imagination to see the possibilities and come up with solutions that hadn’t been thought of before.”

A self-described science fiction freak as a kid and a mandolin player in recent years, Wayne decided that in retirement he wanted to continue his interest in a wide range of activities, so he began saying yes to volunteer opportunities that came his way.  

“Volunteering sure beats sitting on a couch watching TV,” Wayne said. “A lot of people in my parents’ generation seemed to physically deteriorate a few years after retirement, so I decided the best way to extend life is to be active.”

Much like retirement, he sees United Way today as far different from his parents’ generation, noting that United Way used to be primarily focused on distributing funding to nonprofits rather than delivering its own services. 

“United Way’s model has changed, and it needed to,” Wayne said. “We need to be seen in the community for delivering services if we want to have community support. With Woodland United Way joining forces with United Way California Capital Region, we’re hopeful for more and better things.”