Volunteers partner with United Way to read to nearly 4,000 kids

“I want to be President when I grow up!”


Thyler Nelson, a second grader at Uplift Heights Preparatory School isn’t afraid to set high goals, and the eight-year-old knows a love of books will be the first step towards achieving them.
“Reading is important because you have to read everything in life.”

Nelson was among nearly 4,000 North Texas students to benefit from United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’ Unite for Change community impact series, presented by Texas Instruments. On National Read Across America Day, community and corporate volunteers from Texas Instruments, Celanese, H-E-B, and Central Market teamed up with United Way to visit schools and early education centers to read to children. The March 2 celebration coincided with the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss.

“Community involvement is really important to TI. Strong companies need strong communities,” said Julie Van Haren, Vice President, Communications and Business Digital Marketing, Texas Instruments. “We believe impact comes from both investment and involvement, so this was a great opportunity today to get our employees engaged and make an impact on our Dallas community.”

“We really try to foster a community of giving and caring,” said Adolph Gonzales, Operations Manager, Celanese Corporation. “For us to be able to participate in events, give back to the community, and interact with those who need the help the most, it’s a great opportunity for us.”

Along with listening to Dr. Seuss classics like “Green Eggs and Ham,” students witnessed a cooking competition between teams led by Dallas Mavericks legend Rolando Blackman and children’s author Michelle Staubach Grimes. Blackman has a personal connection to childhood literacy and a strong passion for promoting the cause.

“I came to this country speaking Spanish. I had to go to remedial reading classes in the morning when I came to the United States on a student VISA at the age of 8,” said Blackman. He credits those reading classes with helping him learn to speak English and expanding his imagination. “With that process I was able to travel so many places, and I hadn’t even been on a plane.”

Blackman said this event is just a start of what he hopes will be a life-long journey for children.

“Open up a book and read. Turn the television off, take the headset off. Once you start to do that, through the reading process, you give a child the opportunity to carry that adventure on through the rest of their lives.”