Karen Regan, a local chapter president of Room to Read, said that for Wednesday’s Rally for Reading fundraising luncheon at the Shore Club she expected maybe 80 people. She told another organizer she would drink at shot for every person over 125.
Almost 200 were there.
“If you see me sneaking out early,” she said, “it’s because I don’t want to get drunk today.”
Room to Read’s newest chapter in Westchester County is off to a great start.
“Reading, writing, and learning are like candy for children in rural Cambodia because it’s a luxury,” local resident and chapter member Mony Liquard said.
Liquard knows, having helped bring this “candy” to children in Cambodia and other developing countries through planning and soliciting donations for the luncheon. The event raised close to $20,000 — enough to build three libraries, filled with age-appropriate children’s books and staffed by trained librarians, to serve school children in the developing world.
Room to Read is a global, non-profit organization that empowers children in developing countries, who would otherwise remain trapped in poverty, with literacy and education.
Liquard, a Larchmont mother of two, four months pregnant and with at a demanding corporate job, fled Cambodia more than 30 years ago.
“I am committed to contribute in what small way I can to help other children have opportunities of education as a way out of poverty,” said Liquard.
Around 200 people from Larchmont, New Rochelle, Rye, Bronxville, Scarsdale and other Westchester communities attended the Rally for Reading luncheon. Erin Ganju, CEO and Co-founder of Room to Read, and Julie Orringer, award-winning author of The Invisible Bridge, spoke at the event. A silent auction was held as part of the event with generous donations from vendors and individuals in Larchmont and surrounding communities.
Liquard remembers living on hand-outs and donated clothes from her family’s sponsor church in Salt Lake City. She won’t ever forget the day she went to school bewildered at the laughs from classmates pointing out that she was wearing “pajamas” which she had simply thought were clothes she could wear.
Now a Director at GE Capital, Liquard recalls that her grandfather, a former salt farmer, once told her,” I leave you not wealth but education because this is the wealth that no one can ever steal from you.”
Room to Read (www.roomtoread.org) is a global organization seeking to transform the lives of millions of children in the developing world by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education. Founded on the belief that “World Change Starts with Educated Children,” Room to Read works in collaboration with local communities, partner organizations and governments to develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children and to ensure girls have the skills and support needed to complete their secondary education. Since 2000, Room to Read has impacted the lives of more than 5 million children in Asia and Africa; it aims to reach 10 million children by 2015.
The Westchester Chapter of Room to Read was founded in November 2010 by Carine Verschueren and Karen Regan. Volunteer meetings are held every first Tuesday of the month. For further information about the Westchester Chapter of Room to Read, visit www.roomtoread.org/westchester.
— Written by Karen Khor and Polly Kreisman; photos by Sandra Wong Geroux and Polly Kreisman