In 2013, our founders launched the "Read to Me" program, the first of its kind in the state of Florida. As administrators of the program, Make a Difference Foundation coordinates local community resources to enable inmates of the Florida Correctional System to read books to their children through recorded storytelling; thereby allowing families to remain connected and engaged while separated from one another.
In its inaugural event held in October 2013 held at the Selby Library in Sarsota, children of 75 inmates listened to their parents read them a book through the power of technology.
HealthSouth provided recording equipment; and the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office and the Sarasota Police Department donated time and grant money to help launch the program. The Sherriff's Office also gave free bus passes to the children and their guardians and the library provided free library cards to each of the kids.
Since that first event which captured national media attention, the Read to Me program has helped to connect over 1,000 incarcerated parents with their children through the sound of their voices.
Make a Difference Foundation is intent on promoting family unity and adult and child literacy through digital storytelling by expanding this important program statewide in 2017.
Both funding and volunteers are needed to support this important initiative.
Children listen to their parent's recording at a Read to Me event held at Bridges of America, an open facility
of the Florida Correctional System.