09May 24

Sutton Community Impact Award Recipient 2024

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Congratulations to Bill, Marley, and Jess, this year’s Sutton Community Impact Award recipients at LIT UP!.


Marley Waiser

Thanks to Foundations Learning for this award and to sponsor Jay Stark from Sutton Wealth Planning.

My Dad read to my brother and I from an early age. During these times I was amazed to find out that the elephant used to have a trunk like a boot, and it was only after a tangle with a crocodile, that the trunk was stretched to its current length … according to Rudyard Kipling’s story The Elephants Child in the Just So Stories. And usually by Christmas Eve, we had gotten to the point in my dad’s reading of Dickens’ The Christmas Carol that Tiny Tim had uttered the famous words ‘and God Bless us, everyone!’.

When I was young our family moved a lot. One of the first things we did was find the library. There I found books that would take me to new places and adventures and would somehow alleviate the loneliness that I felt in leaving friends behind.

Reading is a superpower. It opens all kinds of doors. The Spark program has given me a wonderful opportunity. I get to work with young children, improving their reading skills so that they can become more comfortable and experience the superpower that reading can be.

Jess Paul

I too have fond memories of being read to – by my parents, my grandparents, relatives, later with friends, and eventually on my own. I delighted in weekly trips to the bookmobile a couple of blocks from my house, climbing up the creaky metal stairs, pouring over the spines of books in cramped shelves, adding new ones and favourites to my stack, and then rushing home to devour them.

I would read everywhere. At school, on the bus, while walking home from the bus (much to my dad’s chagrin – pay attention!), by the crack of hallway light that fell into my room after I’d tucked in to bed, and even by flashlight underneath the covers. I still love to devour a good book. I now have two boys of my own aged 11 and nearly 16 – they also grew up in the library or in our laps sharing books.

A book is a safe harbour. An escape from the realities of our day-to-day lives. A place we can go to turn off the world for just a little while. To be able to read is to have a superpower that transports us to another place entirely, and enables us to dream, think, enrich ourselves, use our creative minds, and more.

In more practical terms, it is also the key to the physical, social, and mental health of our families and communities; to our educational success, economic prospects, careers, and our very futures.

I first came on board with READ Saskatoon (as it was then) as an event sponsor in 2017 for the first Stories & Story Telling event (now We Are Story). I was thrilled to work with Sheryl and her team as a communications and brand consultant for nearly seven years, including leading the recent rebrand to Foundations Learning & Skills Saskatchewan. It’s been a true delight to watch it continue to grow and transform into a literacy and skills powerhouse leading the way in this province.

I am proud to be a monthly donor (give every month!) and be a part of the tangible difference Foundations is making in our communities. I love hearing all the success stories of the many folks that participate in your programming – as both participants and volunteers. To Foundations Learning & Skills Saskatchewan, and to sponsor Jay Stark from Sutton Wealth Planning, from the bottom of my heart – thank you for this recognition.