On March 23, Literacy Partners,
New York's only accredited adult literacy program, hosted the last of three 'Food for Thought' luncheon events, featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Strout and www.wowOwow.com CEO Joni Evans. Thanks to the generous support
New York benefactors and de Grisogono Boutique, the event was a resounding success.
www.wowOwow.com CEO and founding member Joni Evans kicked off
the event by emphasizing how important Literacy Partners efforts are in the New York City area. A longtime friend and colleague of Liz Smith,
Honorary Chair of Literacy Partners, Evans introduced Elizabeth Strout by describing her amazing literary talent. Strout, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
of Olive Kitteridge, Abide with Me and Amy and Isabelle, began by sharing a childhood memory:
"I was really young, but I remember this moment vividly. We were on
vacation and lost somewhere in Florida, when my father asked us to read
the street signs to look for a particular road," Strout recalled. "I remember being horrified when I realized that I couldn't read the signs. There was
this whole world out there and it wasn?t open to me. I said, "Dad, I can't
read!;? and he promised to teach me when we got home. But that moment really stuck with me. And thinking back on it, it makes me so grateful for Literacy Partners work, teaching adult New Yorkers how to read."
Strout went on to discuss the importance of 'escaping into fiction and being
able to have a character's feelings resonate with and reflect one?s own.
After her talk, she and Evans sat down for a lively and enlightening
exchange on Strout's journey as a writer and her latest, award-winning book.
When asked about how she came to be published, Strout described the
difficult process of trying to get an agent, which took years of hard work and follow-up. Strout joked that when people called her an 'overnight success,'
that really wasn't the case at all. When asked if she missed Olive, the protagonist in Olive Kitteridge, Strout joked that Olive still 'haunts her' sometimes, but has for the most part departed.
The event was attended by Literacy Partners Chairman Peter Brown, and Board Members Jacqueline Weld Drake, Katharine Raymond, and Mark Jackson. Janet Barrett, Violaine Bernbach, Hilary Black, Martha Bograd, Caroline Curry, Elizabeth Curry, Mary Alice Deering, Lorna de Wangen Graev, Fred Eberstadt, Anne Eisenhower Flottl, Barett Frelinghuysen, Jamee Gregory, Les Hinton, Amy Holman, Susan Kamil, Peggy Culver Obernauer, Liz Peek, , Jana Roberts, Denise Saul, Miriam Schatz, Terry Shea and Ann Widerka were also in attendance.
About Literacy Partners: For over 35 years, Literacy Partners has helped thousands of New Yorkers learn the basic reading, writing and math skills needed to succeed in day-to-day living. Through successful collaborations with major corporations, community partners and benefactors, Literacy Partners offers small, welcoming classes taught by enthusiastic, highly trained volunteer tutors. Literacy Partners is the only nationally accredited adult literacy program serving New York City.