United Through Reading (UTR), a San Diego-based non-profit organization that helps connect military families around the world through reading, was honored with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s “Community Service Hero Award.” The honor was in recognition of the support UTR provides to U.S. military families.
UTR’s unique model provides more than 200 locations worldwide where service members can be recorded reading books aloud for their children to view on a DVD at home, regardless of time zone differences and internet connectivity.
UTR was founded in 1989 by the wife of a Naval flight surgeon who was deployed when their daughter was a baby. When her husband returned, their daughter didn’t recognize him and it took time to rebuild their bond. This program creates emotional connections between parents and their children, encourages literacy, and makes homecomings easier.
Last year, the organization distributed more than 10,000 books to military children around the globe. These books accompanied many of the DVD recordings sent home by military parents.
UTR’s CEO Sally Ann Zoll said she’s extremely grateful for the honors received at Friday’s ceremony.
“To be in the presence of our nation’s most decorated and honored veterans, and to have those veterans believe in the mission of United Through Reading, like we believe in our mission, it’s incredible,” said Zoll.
UTR beneficiary survey data indicates that:
- 81% of participants report a decrease in their children’s anxiety about the deployment
- 88% of participants report an increase in connectedness with deployed service members
- 90% of participants report that participation reduced their own stress during deployment
- 78% of participants report increases in their child’s interest in reading and books
- 83% of recordings are watched nearly every day or more often.
To date, almost two million military moms, dads, and children have participated in this program. For more information on how to participate or support, visit www.unitedthroughreading.org.