We had the pleasure of speaking this
month with Karolina Klinker, the passionate and dedicated Program
Manager for Reach Out and Read Georgia.
This former Philadelphia social
worker and mother of a five-year-old daughter is the face of the
Reach Out and Read program in Georgia to many of our more than 122
Karolina fulfills a critical need to
the Reach Out and Read Georgia program by way of offering
customized technical assistance and support in person and remotely
to implementers of the program. She is the point person with whom
our program sites interact the most. She provides access to
provider training modules, conducts site orientations and Site
"My job is basically quality
assurance," Karolina said, light-heartedly. "I am making sure
people understand how the program is supposed to be implemented. We
have great doctors who learned about program in residency, when
they are absorbing so much information about everything. When
implementing the program, there are a lot of new things they learn.
A lot of times, they need someone to talk to and ask questions to.
I help with support, and facilitate communications, so we get the
outcomes we all want: that kids are better prepared for school and
parents are reading to kids more and this is integrated into their
One of the biggest challenges
participating Reach Out and Read Georgia provider clinicians and
Site Coordinators face is finding time to fundraise to support
their sites annual book budget. Karolina offers support and
suggestions to help engage them with their local communities and
even with which municipal institutions in the area they might
When it comes to raising awareness
of Reach Out and Read Georgia and recruiting new sites to implement
the model, Karolina has found it useful to attend community
meetings, proving that getting to know the real issues facing a
certain community as well as their unique concerns can be a
powerful way to connect.
"As an advocate for the program,
I've attended The Fulton County Early Childhood Education and
Obesity Prevention Cohort, a group of organizations that come
together to talk about reducing childhood obesity and improve early
childhood literacy. I can talk about what ROR GA does and remind
them that we are in the community, serving 1000s of kids a year. I
want parents to promote the program to their children's
Karolina is open-minded, "You just
never know who will be a resource for you, and vice versa. I have a
5 year old, so it's natural to strike up conversation with other
parents. You want every child to have the same
Karolina started out as a social
worker working with middle-schoolers, focusing on pregnancy
prevention and making good choices. This work inspired her to dig
deeper and help set a foundation of success for
"A lot of kids, by the time we get
to them, there is a lot that's already happened to them...not to
say that skill and knowledge and support systems can't help them,
because they can. But, I wanted to get to the root -- and that
starts with the parents."
In her work as a home visitor with
Communities and Schools of Marietta in Cobb county, Karolina was
encouraging parents to understand the role they are playing in
their children's lives. And, that is a principle that she's carried
into her work with Reach Out and Read Georgia.
"Reach Out and Read seemed like a
great way to show parents what they could do."
Today, Karolina traverses Georgia,
from her base in Atlanta, visiting program sites from Savannah to
Dalton, Alpharetta to Alma.
It was in Alma where she visited
South Georgia Primary Care, a site in a community center that also
offers medical services.
"I loved this site because these
were doctors, lead by the center's head Dr. Rachel Burke, who
understood what their role is in the community. They purchase books
for children up to 10 years of age, they collect clothes for kids,
the waiting room has a two-story play area, they even wrap gifts
for families they choose to help during Christmas."
In another story from the field,
Karolina talks about meeting a mom who says she didn't know the
importance of reading to her child before she took him to his
doctor who was implementing Reach Out and Read. Since then, she'd
been reading to him regularly.
As she was setting up for a Dr.
Seuss reading at the clinic, Karolina was skeptical the
18-month-old would be engaged by story time that was beyond his
It surprised and delighted her that
this little boy was the most engaged child in the room, because his
mother had made reading together a daily practice and
"I was thrilled when the mother told
me that when she found her son loved books, she would go to thrift
stores and garage sales just to build his library. This program is
changing family culture."
Karolina also reports hearing from
doctors that Reach Out and Read Georgia's message to parents that
they need to read to their kids everyday has inspired some to go
back and get their GEDs and embrace what they have to do to get
Karolina doesn't just work for a
literacy organization that promotes parents reading to children
everyday, she lives its principles.
"I love closing out the day reading
to my daughter. I feel really good knowing I did something that was
good for her -- and good for me."
On her nearly two years working for
Reach Out and Read Georgia, Karolina says, "This is a great
program. It's well executed and I am lucky to be a part of it and
meet such wonderful people in the community."