Janet Callahan, Palmer Paving
When Gladys Sullivan became involved with the literacy organization at the library, we did too; our families have known each other for 50 years. Actually, it was my sister Julie that initiated the relationship. She not only had a personal interest in literacy but she also saw the need to offer literacy education at Palmer Paving. You see, some of our employees could not read. This was something they kept secret, perhaps because they were ashamed or felt they were getting by OK. We felt that having a basic reading skill would open so many doors for them in their personal and professional lives. It was extremely important to honor people's privacy, so we promoted literacy in general and instruction was made available for anyone who wanted it.
Our company is focused on community-based giving in the areas where we operate. We do give nationally, but most often we support Little League, soccer teams, firefighters, school programs. This way we see an immediate benefit in the community - new equipment for teams or firefighters, for example. Our giving is systematically approached - it depends on the values of the organizations. We know who we are going to support, although the list gets longer each year. We don't give to marketing agencies; we would rather give directly to organizations so all the money goes to the mission.
Top Floor Learning is one of our platinum level organizations that we budget for and include each year without question. TFL has shown consistent growth and the depth and expansiveness of your volunteers is quite impressive. We've watched how the program has evolved from teaching people to read, to ESL, to self-improvement, to financial development. You provide programs that help people improve their lives. I think one of the most substantial programs you've brought to the region is the Bridge to College initiative - it is very impressive. It helps too that you are in a very nice environment within the new library - this adds to the professional aspect of TFL. I see TFL as a well-run, professional business with a social conscience.