Las Vegas Sun

November 16, 2018

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Findlay Good Works:

Spread the Word Nevada puts books into the hands of low-income children

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Christopher DeVargas

Lisa Habighorst is co-founder and executive director of Spread the Word Nevada, which encourages reading by providing books to low-income households with children.

Lisa Habighorst, Spread the Word Nevada

• Title: Co-Founder/ Executive Director

• Agency address: 1065 American Pacific Drive, Suite 160, Henderson NV 89074

• Agency phone number: 702-564-7809

• Agency website: spreadthewordnevada.org

• Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

What is Findlay Good Works?

Good Works is a twice-monthly series in Las Vegas Weekly in which we highlight the efforts of nonprofit groups that are making a difference in our community. You can check out the good work of more organizations by visiting facebook.com/FindlayAutoGroup.

What does your organization do?

Spread the Word Nevada is dedicated to advancing childhood literacy within low-income communities by changing lives one book at a time. We do this through four main initiatives:

■ Kids to Kids: distribution of grade-level appropriate books to build at-home libraries

■ Breakfast With Books: family literacy program that models and encourages families to read with their children

■ Books & Buddies: community mentoring programs for struggling readers

■ Books on Break: summer reading program.

When and why was it established?

In 2001, co-founder Laurie Hartig, a former Clark County School District librarian, wanted to advance early childhood literacy by placing books into the homes of children within Southern Nevada’s at-risk low-income communities. She recognized that most of her students did not have books and believed they should be equipped with tools that empower them. Three months later, I joined Laurie, and Spread the Word Nevada has since grown into the largest children’s literacy nonprofit organization in the state.

The program has had a profound effect on the lives of more than 513,000 at-risk children by providing more than 4.6 million books. We place more than 54,000 books in homes each month. We also serve 54 Southern Nevada elementary schools.

What services might the community not know about?

Books on Break is our reading program to encourage reading throughout the summer months to avoid the “summer slide.” It is partnered with sites across the Valley to enhance literacy access, provide inspiration and deliver their “keep at home” books.

What is the greatest success you’ve been a part of?

Spread the Word Nevada, of course. What started as a two-person operation in a spare bedroom has grown to a thriving nonprofit business employing 32 staff, governed by an 18 member board and housed in a 13,000 foot warehouse/office space. As the executive director and co-founder, it’s been my honor to be a servant leader, empowering my team and also rolling up my sleeves and working side by side with them to make this vision a reality.

What can people do to get involved in the cause you serve?

We are always in need of volunteers. We are recruiting mentors for our Books and Buddies program, which provides reading companions for at-risk students attending local elementary schools. People can also donate new or gently used books or $1, which provides one book to an at-risk child.

What can Southern Nevadans do to improve our community in general?

Volunteer. Get out, get to know your community and be a helper. Find a cause that you are passionate about and get involved.

Where do you see your organization in five years?

Growing and introducing our mission to other parts of the country. This is a cost effective and easy way to make a difference in the future of our at-risk children. We want all of our nation’s kids to experience the magic of books and the benefits of literacy that will make them confident individuals.

Anything else you want to tell us?

We are deeply grateful for the support and dedication of our community partners, such as Findlay Automotive. Without such strong support from so many companies, organizations and individuals, we could not reach the children and families we serve. Together we make a difference—one book at a time.

This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.