Jack & Jill Greater Essex County introduces new reading corner

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ORANGE, NJ — The Greater Essex County NJ Chapter of Jack and Jill of America Inc. recently announced the grand opening of a new reading corner at FAMILYConnections in Orange during National Family Reading Month. A celebration and ribbon-cutting were held Sunday, Nov. 20, to mark the opening of this space, which was designed by GECC to increase literacy in children from kindergarten through third grade who frequent the FAMILYConnections offices.

Stocked with books and other engaging media specifically tailored for children, the reading corner, named “Healing Hearts through Healing Words,” is the cornerstone of GECC’s literacy initiative that integrates reading into therapeutic activities designed to heal and strengthen families. The reading corner was funded through a grant awarded to GECC from the Jack and Jill of America Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Jack and Jill of America.

“Both FAMILYConnections and Jack and Jill have, at their core, a burning desire to make a difference in the lives of children everywhere,” Carolyn Mason, GECC’s outgoing foundation chairwoman and current vice president, said in a press release. “The Jack and Jill Foundation is committed to leveraging its resources to make sustainable, impactful and deep-rooted change within our communities. The reading corner is just the beginning of the work that our chapter is doing to improve the educational, physical and social-emotional well-being of children within our community.

“In addition to the Reading Corner, GECC is working with FAMILYConnections on a second grant we received from our national Jack and Jill of America Foundation to provide early intervention, in-home support to families and children in the hopes that children will be given ‘a right start’ to academic and personal success,” Mason continued. “Moreover, the proceeds from GECC’s recent Harvest Soiree event held on Nov. 11 at the Maplewood Country Club will also benefit FAMILYConnections. We know that FAMILYConnections has a wide impact in the community.”

Young children between the ages of 5 and 8, who may be grappling with mental health issues or whose parents may be dealing with substance abuse and other challenges, will be identified and the reading corner will integrate the entire family into a reading program to help with issues that may arise during their therapeutic activities. The reading corner will be used to facilitate parent-child interactions, and foster critical emotional awareness in the children that may alleviate the stress they are undergoing. Reading together connects families and nurtures emotional bonds between parent and child.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Greater Essex County Chapter of Jack and Jill on the creation of a reading corner for our clients,” FAMILYConnections Executive Director Jacques Hryshko said in the press release. “Our organizations share common goals — nurturing children, helping teens succeed and building strong families. These goals come together on this project. I thank everyone who has helped to make the reading corner a reality — not only Jack and Jill but the vendors who have donated their services. Everyone at FAMILYConnections is very excited to have this new resource, including our board of trustees and the families we serve.”

Photos Courtesy of Marie McGehee