Nonprofit spotlight |

Nonprofit spotlight

Kay Vasilakis
Special to the Post Independent

Rifle’s branch library is using an unconventional approach to encourage young readers. It’s called “PAWS to READ,” and the goal of the program is to improve the reading skills of children with the help of canine reading buddies.

Literacy experts recognize children may be intimidated by reading aloud in a group. The PAWS to READ program allows children opportunities to practice reading in a fun and nonthreatening environment.

Certified therapy dogs provide an occasion to learn firsthand the positive ways animals can make a difference in human lives.

Healing Partners of the Roaring Fork Valley, a nonprofit organization whose members visit patients in hospitals and nursing facilities throughout the valley, provide the Delta Certified Therapy Dogs.

Over 50 students signed up for the program in Rifle last summer. The program has begun at Wamsley Elementary School.

Wamsley Elementary literacy coach Judy Green “welcomed us with open arms, and there is a waiting list of kids who want to read to the dogs,” said Sandy Sekeres of the PAWS to READ program. “We are reaching the kids who really need the reading time. I think it is a great experience for all concerned.”

The parties involved are trying to get a program started in the Carbondale schools and a program at the Gordon Cooper Library in Carbondale.

Children participating in the READ program are absent less, have improved self-esteem, and make more trips to the library. The dogs love the attention, too.


If you’d like a whiter smile and a feeling of philanthropy, here’s a great opportunity to do both. Dr. Jim Cummins is offering full mouth bleaching treatments for only $250.

All proceeds will be given to the Advocate Safehouse Project.

This offer is good through Dec. 31. For appointments, call 945-5083. Make checks payable to The Advocate Safehouse Project.

” Kay Vasilakis’ column “Nonprofit Spotlight” appears every other Monday. For news tips, call Kay at 984-2308 or e-mail

Part of the READ (Reading Education Assistant Dogs) program

Rifle Branch Library ” Melissa Hisel, children’s librarian


PAWS to READ established by Healing Partners in 2003 in the Garfield County Library System

Healing Partner teams consist of a Delta Certified registered

handler and a dog

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