Ready Readers plans gala; Vote online for NCJW

Columnist Lois Caplan

By Lois Caplan

READY READERS is my idea of a perfect philanthropic institution. It directly inspires preschool age children from low-income communities to become readers by reading aloud to them, increasing their exposure to quality books and providing reading related activities. Currently, there are 550 Ready Reading volunteers reading weekly to 7,800 preschool age children who are in 491 classrooms in 136 early childhood centers in the St. Louis area. Do you realize what this means for thousands of children?  It means that they will be ready to read and learn when they enter school and that they will start out as literate little people.

Similar to all projects like this, it takes funds to produce Ready Readers. On Saturday evening, Oct. 6 at the home of Edwin and Lenore Pepper in Hampton Park, there will be an evening of music under the stars, as St. Louis’ own nationally acclaimed jazz vocalist, Brian Owens, will perform with piano accompaniment. The party begins at 7 p.m. in the Peppers’ lovely garden (weather permitting) and will include heavy hors d’oeuvres and wine. The cost for the gala is $125 per person. You can count on valet parking. To reserve your place for the Ready Readers gala, call 314-564-8070.

HERE’S A FUNDRAISER THAT SHOULD WARM THE COCKLES OF YOUR HEART as it takes only a couple of your minutes at the computerand not your dough. The National Council of Jewish Women-St. Louis Section has been selected as the only finalist from Missouri in Tom’s of Maine “50 States for Good” program. That means NCJW now has a chance to win up to $50,000 in support of its Back to School Store, which provides children in need with clothing, shoes, school, supplies, books and backpacks to return to school on the first day and stay in school all-year long. The “50 States of Good Program” seeks to uncover local nonprofit groups that address urgent community needs and engage volunteers to get the work done.  Winning $50,000 would allow NCJW to expand the reach of its program and impact thousands more children in Missouri. Add your help by voting for NCJW starting now and continuing daily until Oct. 9. In other words you can vote every day but only once a day. Here’s the info on the public vote at 

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALAN FREED who has been named the St. Louis Collaborative Law: Family Law Lawyer of the year for 2013 by the peer-reviewed publication “Best Lawyers.” Freed is recognized throughout Missouri as one of the pre-eminent proponents of the peaceful resolution of divorces and other family law matters. A member of the Clayton law firm Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal P.C., Freed has written and lectured extensively on divorce mediation which he teaches at the Washington University School of Law. In 2002, he joined with other like-minded attorneys to found the Collaborative Family Law Association, a group of St. Louis area legal, mental health and financial professionals dedicated to resolving divorce through problem-solving, interest based negotiations rather than through trial.  

CULTURAL LEADERSHIP’S contribution to young people in our community is almost beyond description. The group was founded by Karen Kalish to educate high school sophomores and juniors about righting issues of social injustice through the lens of the African American and Jewish experience. On Sunday, Oct. 14 Cultural Leadership will celebrate “The Transformational Journey,” a gala that honors social justice, to be held from 6 to 10 p.m. at Soulard Preservation Hall, 1921 South 9th Street. The event recognizes the accomplishments of Circuit Court Judge Jimmie Edwards, founder of the Innovative Concept Academy, a school for at-risk middle and high school students. Edwards will receive the first Karen S. Kalish Trouble Maker of the Best Kind Award. The event will include an auction, video presentation of Cultural Leadership participants in action, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and dinner. Tickets are $125 per person. Patron tickets are $250 per person. To make a reservation, call 314-725-3222 or email [email protected]. 

IMPROVISED SHAKESPEARE COMPANY returns to the Touhill Performing Arts Center at UMSL this weekend, Sept. 28 and 29. Company members craft an entirely new two-act comedic play based on a title suggested by the audience and using Shakespeare-style language, characters and themes. It unfolds much like it was choreographed by Monty Python. Tickets at $30 are available at the Touhill box office or by phone at 314-516-4949.