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Current News & Events

RVFF in the news!

RVFF's Summer Reading Kits were featured in the July 16th edition of the Valley Courier. Joan Falcigno, RVFF Co-Chiar was "Person of the Week" in Rita Christopher's weekly column.

Follow this link to read the article.

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Summer Reading Kits

Here's how 100 Summer Reading Kits came together:

  1. Items for kits were purchased with RVFF funds – bright yellow backpacks and various activity materials – workbooks, colored pencils, crayons, pens, and scissors.

  2. Schools provided RVFF with book requests based on a child’s age, gender, reading level and language.

  3. RVFF volunteers picked up tags with request details for book purchasing. 

  4. Donors contributed funds for book and kit purchases.

On Monday, June 3rd, RVFF volunteers came together with books, items and backpacks to assemble the 100 kits. The work went quickly with all the helping hands. ​

Summer Reading Kit shoppers and assemblers (left to right): Barbara Turley, Bette Lomme, Lois Thomsen, Luisa Ketron, Dianne Sexton, Coral Rawn, Joan Falcigno, and Eileen Browne. Not shown: Suzy Baird, Leslie Barlow, Barbara Haines, Beebe Miller and Betsy Sandburg.

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Clinton, Deep River, Essex, and Old Saybrook elementary schools received their allocation of reading kits on Friday, June 7th.  As you can see by the smiles on the faces of the two principals below, they were delighted when they saw the many yellow backpacks and asked us to thank all the RVFF donors for their generosity.


From the Essex Elementary Literacy Coach, Leah Page:

“We've been distributing the yellow reading bags all day and the joy on the kids' faces is incredible. Thank you for the time and care that went into creating these personalized bags. We are so fortunate to have such an organization in our community.”

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Joan Falcigno and Barbara Haines (RVFF Co-Chairs) with Teresa Gingrave, Principal of Lewin G. Joel Elementary School, Clinton

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Joan Falcigno and Barbara Haines (RVFF Co-Chairs) with Heston Sutman, Principal of Kathleen E. Goodwin School, Old Saybrook

RVFF Volunteer Meeting – April 23, 2024

Our April meeting was held at Essex Place – once again, with thanks to our host, Connie Connors. At this meeting we welcomed guest speakers from area elementary schools to learn state of reading in our schools. Speakers from Old Saybrook and Clinton were:

  • Heston Sutman, Principal – Kathleen E. Goodwin Elementary School, Old Saybrook

  • Teresa Gingrave, Principal – Lewin G. Joel Jr. Elementary School, Clinton

  • Brittany Macellaro, Literacy Specialist and Language Arts Consultant – Lewin G. Joel Jr. Elementary School, Clinton\

Britanny spoke first about the children she works with from kindergarten through second grade. She works with children individually and makes recommendations to classroom teachers. The school has a significant number of multilanguage children. In working with these children, she’s found that books with two languages – English & Portuguese or English & Spanish are books that are great for families. Parents can read to children in their native language and children can read to parents in their second language.

Teresa Gingrave talked about the demographics in the Clinton Elementary School. Of the approximately 500 children, 93 are multi language students with a range of English-speaking abilities. Over 40% of children in the school have special needs of some kind. Teachers are having to work very hard to stay on top of educating their students and helping them progress.

Heston Sutman also spoke about the demographics in Old Saybrook schools. 16 years ago, when he started in Old Saybrook, 10% of the children were special needs. Now that percentage is up to 45%. Both principals cited the reasons for these increases: the COVID-19 pandemic, technology – greater exposure to “screen” time, and children moving into a new community. All three speakers described teachers as being under stress to effectively educate the students in their classes. They stressed the importance of children having books at home and parents taking the time to read with their children.


A question-and-answer period followed. One question was about the importance of community awareness of what is going on in the schools – is there a way for schools to inform the community about schools’ status? RVFF is a good example of community involvement. Also, how can RVFF best support the schools? Answer: by acknowledging teachers and the work that they are doing with students. Teachers would appreciate the support. All volunteers attending voiced appreciation for the opportunity to learn about the schools in Clinton and Old Saybrook and the challenges schools are dealing with in these times.

Essex Library Book Sale – April 6, 2024

Fostering Child Literacy and Community Awareness


Our recent presence at the Essex Library’s book sale on April 6th was well received. At the RVFF table, we offered valuable handouts for parents and families, empowering them with insights on promoting reading habits and access to free book resources. Additionally, engaging worksheets were available for children, designed to ignite their passion for reading. Embracing our literacy theme, “We Read!”, we distributed bookmarks featuring RVFF/CFMC information, further spreading awareness about our cause.


Many thanks to Bo Jacaruso and Bette Lomme for cheerfully volunteering at the table, alongside our co-chairs, during this day-long event.


Your continued support and participation are invaluable as we strive to make a difference in the lives of children and families in our community.


Bette Lomme and Bo Jacaruso at the morning shift


Barbara Haines at the afternoon shift

RVFF Volunteer Meeting – March 19, 2024

River Valley Fund for Families held the first volunteer meeting of the year on on Tuesday, March 19th at Essex Place. The meeting was well attended by RVFF volunteers. We welcomed Community Foundation of Middlesex County President, Cynthia Clegg to the meeting. We are grateful to Connie Connor for hosting our meeting in the lovely community room at Essex Place. Thank you to all who contributed appetizers and refreshments to the social half hour before the meeting.


The new RVFF Leadership was introduced at the beginning of the meeting followed by a financial report from Treasurer Liaison, Lois Thomsen. The three RVFF Co-Chairs, Joan Falcigno, Barbara Haines, and Barbara Turley, presented proposed plans for this year’s initiative: Pathways to Literacy. These plans are divided into five activities:


First Activity – Community Awareness and Promotion of Child Literacy at Libraries

An RVFF presence at library book sales with materials promoting child literacy as well as information about RVFF and our Pathways to Literacy initiative. RVFF will be at the Friends of the Essex Library book sale in April. What you can do: Volunteer to be at the RVFF table for a shift on Saturday, April 6.


Second Activity – Summer Reading Kits

In the interest of preventing summer reading loss, Literacy Kits will be assembled with a book and a collection of related props and games designed to make reading interactive and enjoyable for both a child and a reader. Contents of the Literacy Kit help bring the book to life for a child and deepen the reading experience. The number of kits and child recipients will be determined in consultation with area youth and family services. What you can do: Join the committee determining what materials need to be purchased and how the kits will be assembled and distributed.


Third Activity – Annual Appeal

Once again, RVFF will have an Annual Appeal mailing to go out in conjunction with Connecticut Family Day on September 8th. What you can do: Be on the committee developing the Annual Appeal letter and/or help with assembling the mailing.


Fourth Activity – Author Event Fundraiser

This will be RVFF’s major fundraiser for the year. The vision is to have a well known author for a speaking event with a reception, silent auction, and possibly other fundraising activities. What you can do: Be on the committee to work at making this event a success!


Fifth Activity – Holiday Reading Kits

This will be modeled after the Summer Reading Kit activity with a holiday theme. Once again, number of kits and child recipients will be determined in consultation with area youth and family services. What you can do: Join the committee determining what materials need to be purchased and how the kits will be assembled and distributed.


To participate in any of these activities, contact us here


All at the meeting were enthusiastic about plans for this year.

Pathways to Literacy is on it’s way!

Past News & Events

Click on the links below to view activites in past years.

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