July 2017
President Julie Finck with Daniel the Tiger, PBS. 
Dear Houston Community,

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! It may be hot this summer, but we have some cool announcements and events taking place in the comfort of the air conditioning, as well as cool information to share with you in this edition of our newsletter. Allow me to provide you with a sneak peek.

Our Ladies for Literacy Guild is providing you with a very special opportunity to vie for a chance to win a double strand of exquisite pearls worn by the fabulous First Lady Barbara Bush, thanks to the generosity of Tenenbaum Jewelers. Also, we are partnering with Elaine Turner and Kendra Scott this month to host give back parties in partnership with our Young Professionals Group. Whether you want something trendy or timeless, your participation in these events will benefit our cause and advance a legacy.

Also, you will certainly be intrigued to learn of the incredible gift we received from The Lester and Sue Smith Foundation in honor of Mrs. Bush's recent 93rd birthday. In addition, explore our newsletter to find out why Chita (pronounced "chee-tuh") Craft of KHOU 11 will be prowling around our 3rd Annual Jungle Book Gala in September. It is refreshing that so many people in Houston have warm and generous hearts, willing to give of their time, talent and treasures to help others.

This month, more than 800 children will learn that it is cool to be smart when they attend our Camp Adventure! sponsored by Phillips 66. Join us as a volunteer. It's the next best thing to being a kid and attending the camp. In fact, there are scientific benefits to volunteering, as you'll learn in this newsletter. If you can't serve with us at Camp Adventure!, read about the dozen ways in which you and your children can volunteer and make an impact together this summer.

Take your time. Read on. Stay cool.


Julie Baker Finck, Ph.D.

First Lady Barbara Bush wearing her signature pearls.
Photo credit: Evan Sisley

Mrs. Barbara Bush is one of the most beloved first ladies in the history of our country. Championing the cause of literacy and wearing her signature pearls, Mrs. Bush has created a legacy of impact that will transcend generations.

The Ladies for Literacy Guild of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation is honored to host a raffle for the exquisite, double strand of pearls worn by First Lady Barbara Bush in this photograph. You have a chance to win these graduated white freshwater pearls measuring 13.2mm - 18.0mm, accompanied by the photograph for authenticity. Purchase your raffle tickets today for $100 each.
The drawing for the raffle will be held at the 2017 Power of Literacy Luncheon on October 24, 2017. Winner need not be present to win. Proceeds from the raffle benefit the educational initiatives of the Ladies for Literacy Guild. 

This special raffle was made possible thanks to the generosity of Barbara Bush and our friends at Tenenbaum Jewelers.


Mrs. Barbara Bush with Sue Smith. Photo credit: Jenny Antill
In honor of our beloved Mrs. Barbara Bush's 93rd Birthday, The Lester and Sue Smith Foundation generously donated $150,000 in support of the Ladies for Literacy Guild's Power of Literacy Luncheon and Curiosity Cruiser initiative. "Mrs. Bush continues to inspire us to be actively engaged in her literacy work," said Sue Smith. "Her passion for helping children become lifelong readers is contagious, and we are delighted to make this contribution in her honor."

A partnership between the Ladies for Literacy Guild of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation and the Harris County Public Library, the Curiosity Cruiser is a one-of-a-kind mobile library that will hit the streets later this summer, providing books and delivering educational programs to disadvantaged children in affordable housing communities across the county. We are deeply grateful to Sue Smith for serving as a founding member of the Ladies for Literacy Guild and to both Lester and Sue for their continued advancement of Mrs. Bush's legacy in literacy and of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation.

We have always been told that volunteering is something that is good to do. But did you know that scientific evidence supports the benefits of volunteering? For years, researchers have been looking at how giving your time to a cause can help positively influence your life. Volunteering offers vital help to people in need through worthwhile causes in the community, but the benefits can be even greater for you. 

Research has found that when you volunteer, your brain releases dopamine, a chemical that provides the same feel-good sense you experience after a vigorous workout. Volunteering also reduces stress levels by creating a sense of purpose and well-being. A 2009 Johns Hopkins University study revealed that volunteer activities get you moving and thinking at the same time, which increases your brain activity. Another study released by UnitedHealth Group found that the overwhelming majority of participants reported feeling mentally and physically healthier after a volunteer experience. Here are additional facts about the benefits of volunteering:

Scientific numbers:

of people who volunteered in the last twelve
months said that volunteering  has made them feel healthier.

of volunteers said that giving their time
to a cause improved their mood.

of volunteers said that it
lowered their stress levels.

reported that volunteering increased 
their sense of purpose in life.


Mother and daughter assemble tiny library together.
Photo credit: Michelle Watson

President George H.W. Bush believes, "Any definition of a successful life includes service to others." Spark your child or grandchild's interest in seeing beyond themselves by engaging them in volunteer activities this summer. Click below for a dozen literacy-minded ideas that can be easily adapted to various ages.

Do Good. Have Fun. Make a Difference.


Are you looking for something rewarding to do this summer? Consider volunteering at the 2017 Camp Adventure! summer learning program sponsored by Phillips 66 and hosted by the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation in partnership with the Houston Area Urban League, the Houston Symphony and the Children's Museum of Houston. Camp Adventure! will be held daily between July 10 and August 4 at two local elementary schools, Atherton and Bastian. The camp is designed to bring an enriching and interactive program to over 800 Houston area elementary students in kindergarten through 5th grade. These children will have the opportunity to practice their reading skills through fun and exciting experiments, crafts, music, and games. 

Corporate partners PricewaterhouseCoopers, Target, Schlumberger, JP Morgan Chase, and Phillips 66 have co-designed the curriculum with nonprofit partners, providing volunteers to serve as instructors and mentors, and offering other resources to ensure that the children have a fun and engaging experience this summer. Additional companies have committed teams of volunteers, including CBS Radio, Cheniere Energy, KPMG, Marathon Oil, and Reliant. We still need additional volunteers, so come join us for this incredible opportunity to make summer special for children and make a difference in their lives. 
Title Sponsor.

PricewaterhouseCoopers volunteers pose with children wearing the masks made during the 2016 summer camps.

Chita Craft, KHOU-TV 11 News Meteorologist
We are excited to announce that KHOU-TV 11 News meteorologist Chita Craft will serve as emcee at our third annual Jungle Book Gala on September 22, 2017, at the Dunlavy. In addition to being an award-winning media personality, Chita is the mother of Les William Craft, born in March this year. As a new mother, she understands how vital talking, singing, reading and playing with her child is, starting at birth, to ensure healthy development. "Parents are a child's first and most important teachers," says Chita. "That is why I am happy to support the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation's efforts to help more families have access to the information and resources they need to help put their children on a path to success." 
Chita will join Honorary Gala Chairman Whitney Mercilus of the Houston Texans and the black-tie crowd of the Young Professionals Group for a night of fun in support of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation. In addition to their volunteer efforts throughout the year, the Young Professionals Group hopes to build on the success of last year's Jungle Book Gala, when over $55,000 was generated to help continue the group's mission to improve lives through the power of literacy by providing unique ways for members to read, lead, and serve. We are honored to have Chita join us and thank her and KHOU-TV 11 News for their support.


Last month members of our Ladies for Literacy Guild volunteered to sort more than 12,400 books that were collected from their first annual book drive held earlier this year.  The books will benefit children served by the Curiosity Cruiser mobile library and area literacy partners, including Community Family Centers, Chinese Community Centers, Harris County Public Library, Higher Impact Ministries, Literacy Advance of Houston and Making It Better. We are grateful to the Guild members for their incredible contributions and for far exceeding their original book drive goal of 10,000 books.

Ladies for Literacy Guild Members and Friends sort books.

The Young Professionals Group of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation gathered on June 22 for a networking event held in partnership with Love Advertising founder and CEO Brenda Love at the company's new office space in the Heights. Attendees enjoyed lite bites, beverages and networking and engaged in a wonderful presentation on the behind-the-scenes design and creation of the Curiosity Cruiser. They gained an understanding of the impact the mobile library will have on disadvantaged children across our community in partnership with the Harris County Public Library.

As a founding member of Ladies for Literacy, Brenda has developed a culture of philanthropy and volunteerism at Love Advertising, and they've become passionate about literacy in Houston. Twenty dedicated members of the creative team are working on all phases, from artwork to storyboarding, and everything in between. We are grateful for the partnership with Love Advertising and are thankful for their dedication and commitment to our mission.

Young professionals with Curiosity Cruiser mascots Owlbotron and Northtale.