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Reading Clinic founder donates $1m to her cause

Education charity the Reading Clinic has been gifted $1 million out of the pocket of its founder, Elizabeth Kitson.

Ms Kitson yesterday launched a foundation aimed at generating $100,000 annually for the Island’s young people.

The 94-year-old started the Clinic from her own home in 1968.

“I had planned to leave $1 million to the Reading Clinic when I died but last year the staff here took a pay cut so they could continue to meet the needs of many children,” she said.

The $1 million investment will be used to fund scholarships, support staff and cover diagnostic testing for parents who cannot afford the Clinic’s help.

Noting that inventor Thomas Edison couldn’t read until the age of 12, Ms Kitson said that many equate the inability to read with low intellectual ability, but that reading problems occur with all levels of intelligence.

However, she added: “Without the ability to read well, no student can take advantage of the opportunities within our school system.”

She credited Government for supporting the Reading Clinic, but said the organisation was a private enterprise as well.

“This is an opportunity for people in Bermuda to help their own people.”

Her son, Kirk Kitson, acknowledged that the need for the Clinic’s resources is growing as parents come under economic strain.

Executive director Julie Dunstan added that the Clinic, which works closely with schools, is getting more referrals at younger ages.

“The Foundation will play a critical role in the financial sustainability of the Reading Clinic,” she said.

“Over the past 40 years, we have been fortunate to receive financial support from the community, corporations, foundations, individuals and special events.

“We also raise approximately 25 percent of our revenue from earned income, such as fees for service, rentals, and investment income.”

That support “cannot be taken for granted”, Ms Dunstan said.

To sustain its current services, the Reading Clinic has raised its budget target for the 2012/13 operating year from the previous year’s $800,000, to $1 million.

“Income from the Foundation will help us ensure that no child who requires the Clinic’s services will be turned away,” Ms Dunstan said.

The charity’s chairman Shkysi Cummings offered heartfelt thanks from staff “for this generous donation, and for understanding and meeting the need”.

According to a 2006 needs assessment, Bermuda has about 250 primary schoolchildren with reading disabilities — and tests show residents lag behind people from overseas in literacy, even as the Island’s key industries demand an increasingly literate and numerate workforce.

After the announcing the donation, a beaming Ms Kitson told The Royal Gazette: “It’s a wonderful feeling.

“I started the Reading Clinic on my own. I find that if you can just begin things, they go along from there.”

Useful website: www.readingclinic.bm.

The Reading Clinic received a $1 million donation from the charity’s founder Elizabeth Kitson. Pictured from left are trustee Kirk Kitson, Mrs Kitson, chairman Shkysi Cummings, executive director Julie Dunstan and investment committee member Jim Brock.

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Published January 17, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated January 17, 2013 at 12:40 am)

Reading Clinic founder donates $1m to her cause

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