BY MARTIE EMORY
PHOTOS BY JODIE BRIM CREATIVE
From serving her church family to countless women in search of spiritual growth in their personal and professional lives, Carolyn Edmond is an inspirational force in her community. And as our collective thoughts are turning towards a new school year, her thoughts have been centered on how she and her organization can make a difference.
Since exiting the corporate world and joining her husband, Pastor Robert Edmond of Kimberly Park Holiness Church, in his ministry, Carolyn has touched the lives of many local women with her group WISE (Women in Spiritual Excellence). A 501(c)(3) non-profit, WISE is built on a mission to empower women in all walks of life with faith-based counseling and a variety of educational workshops and ongoing fellowship. As president and founder of WISE, Carolyn’s work has always focused on stewardship and servant leadership, and while pondering ways to expand the group’s work locally, she realized the needs of young students in particular areas of the community.
Meet WISE Mobile Reading – a program that is currently serving students who attend Kimberly Park Elementary, Ashley Elementary, and Cook Literacy Model School, and who may be lacking reading interaction at home. An absence of sharing reading with an adult in the early years can be detrimental to elementary age children, and statistics prove an astounding standstill by the time they reach a third-grade level.
With a group of six volunteers (and counting!) the WISE Mobile Reading van has been spending Thursdays this summer bringing a love of reading into these at-risk neighborhoods, providing books, one-on-one reading time, and snacks to kids from ages three to eight.
“These are children who might have no one else at home to read aloud to them,” says Carolyn. “It’s a major step in helping prepare them for kindergarten.”
Many books in the van’s current collection are from Smart Start, courtesy of the wonderful endeavor Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Book donations are also accepted at any time, as well as monetary donations. While there’s just one van for now, Carolyn would love three for the start of the new school year – one for each of the targeted elementary schools. She believes God will inspire people to help make her goal of a fleet of 10 vans a reality soon, reaching even more neighborhoods!
The exterior of the WISE van has also had an upgrade – colorful handprints of many of the children enjoying the reading adventure.
Carolyn knows that even helping one child develop a love for reading is a milestone – one she hopes can continue to grow with donations and an expanded volunteer base.
For more information, and especially if you have books – or time – to donate to the WISE Mobile Reading program, email Carolyn Edmond at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit this powerful women’s group online for more of their story and missions at wisefellowship.org.