Ann Tackett directs the Monroe County Families First Resource Center, which operates the innovative RIF (Reading Is Fundamental) literacy program Shared Beginnings. Shared Beginnings provides books and motivational activities for teen parents and their children. Through her vision of building a community of readers, Tackett, her staff, and the RIF participants have enjoyed meaningful and memorable book events.
The center’s mission is to effectively provide programs that strengthen families. One key program is Lifting Youth to Brighter Horizons, an out-of-school GED program for youth ages 16-21. To enhance the program, she involves a vibrant network of volunteers and community partners to ensure that families have access to books and reading motivation activities. In addition, she works hard to ensure that out-of-school teens in Monroe County have viable options not only to complete their GED, but also to acquire work experience, attain career mentoring, and access opportunities either for higher education or jobs.
“RIF enriches our program and gives us a core base to build from,” said Tackett. “Being able to see the smiles on the children’s faces when they select their own books is really rewarding. The wonderful experience of reading and book ownership is very important.”
When Hurricane Katrina sent 200 men, women and children to Tackett’s community, almost overnight, she was able to organize the center as a home base for hurricane survivors, who used computers and fax machines to apply for aid. Tackett also collected food and clothing donations for those affected by the disaster and helped secure toys and books for the children.