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Sarasota News Leader January 24, 2014 Page 62 to educate mothers about safe sleeping environments and will provide them with brand new portable cribs," it adds. The Caring Hearts Luncheon benefits First Step's Mothers and Infants program and is "a celebration of the healthy, drug-free babies born each year thanks to the efforts of [that] program," the release explains. "In this specialized program, pregnant women receive both group and individual counseling for their substance abuse disorders, along with parenting, nutrition and life skills classes," the release says. "The residential program is proud to have celebrated the births of 322 healthy, drug-free babies," it notes. For more information about the 11th Annual Caring Hearts Luncheon, visit or call Kelly French at 552-2065. Sheriff Tom Knight/Contributed photo GOODWILL MANASOTA LAUNCHING GOOD READERS PROGRAM Goodwill Manasota launched its Good Readers program on Jan. 23 at Alta Vista Elementary School in Sarasota, "to engage students and help develop and foster a love of reading," the organization notes in a news release. At Alta Vista, 94 percent of students are living in households below the poverty line, a news release points out. Goodwill representatives presented each student with complimentary books at the end of the session. "Strong literacy skills are closely linked to the probability of having a good job, decent earnings and access to training opportunities," said Bob Rosinsky, president and CEO of Goodwill Manasota, in the release. "It is the greatest weapon in the ongoing struggle between success and failure — between economic vitality and prosperity," he adds in the release. "Research has shown that reading is the single most important activity for literacy development and is critically linked to children's later success," the release explains. "Unfortunately, poverty and illiteracy are closely connected and parents raising children in poverty are less likely to buy or have access to books and more likely to have limited literacy skills themselves. The goal of the Good Readers program is to provide additional support and assistance," the release adds. "Education has always been a focus for us," said Rosinsky in the release. "This time we are reaching out to educationally at-risk students, to provide help to those who need it most." Anyone who would like to participate in the Good Readers program may contact Goodwill Manasota at 355-2721, Ext. 114, or email Rick Hughes at

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