What's New

Giving Back is Key Theme of 'Real Men Read' Luncheon

By: Marcey Evans

Grammy-winning saxophonist Kirk Whalum speaks about giving back at "Real Men Read" Luncheon.When “Real Men Read,” kids listen and learn. After more than five years of educating young minds, a few “real men,” Library employees, and other supporters took time to celebrate the program’s accomplishments with an appreciation luncheon at Cornelia Crenshaw Branch Library on March 27, 2013.

The third annual luncheon, this event highlighted the everyday heroes who routinely take time from their schedules to read to children, while setting a positive example.

“These are volunteers who give their time,” said Inger Upchurch, branch manager and program organizer. “They bring energy and warmth, and they show excitement for reading. Whether they had fathers in their lives or not, they say they want to be the best fathers and role models they can be. And, they are making a difference.”

A father gives a writing lesson to his son before the "Real Men Read" Luncheon at Cornelia Crenshaw Library.Excited to give back, these men read to preschool-aged children, who have grown to love and respect the readers as role models. Upchurch said the children also expect the men to show up when she does. “If I come to one of the daycares without one of the (male) readers, the children ask ‘Where’s your man?’,” she said jokingly to the audience. “Watching the children grow up with Real Men Read is great!”

Grammy-winning saxophonist Kirk Whalum was keynote speaker for the luncheon. He encouraged listeners to be good “administrators” of their gifts, including the ability to read. “Here is our opportunity to pass on the things we’ve been blessed with,” he said, while relating children to diamonds and precious metals. Drawing parallels to blighted neighborhoods where many children may reside, Whalum said diamonds are not found in ideal places either, but they are extremely valuable nonetheless. “We know that the precious metal is right here,” he said.

The afternoon ended with volunteers sharing their own personal experiences on why they give back to children and why it’s so important.

“I see this program going on until I’m old and gray. I want someone to pick up the mantle and carry it on,” Upchurch concluded.

For information on how you can get involved in “Real Men Read,” contact the Cornelia Crenshaw Library Branch at (901) 415-2765.