By Brandi Makuski
Three area groups were awarded funds totaling $7,500 by Canadian National (CN) on Friday.
The Portage Co. Literacy Council was awarded $1,000 for continuation of its literacy programs. CN also donated $5,000 for the Wisconsin Land & Water Conservation Association — a Madison-based organization which annually holds the Wisconsin Envirothon, a statewide environmental science challenge aimed at junior and senior high school students.
Kristy SeBlonka, director of the Portage Co. Literacy Council, said the money granted to her organization will be used for the council’s one-to-one literacy program.
“We work with adults in the community with low literacy levels who want to improve their reading, writing, speaking and math skills — that includes native and non-native [English] speakers,” she said. “Literacy helps them access their goals, so they’re very motivated when they come to us to improve their skills.”
The final donation, $1,500, was granted to the Stevens Point Fire Department for its annual batch of public education books on fire safety.
Lt. Tracy Aldrich from SPFD said the books, which feature reading and activities underscoring fire safety, are handed out to second and third grade students in both public and parochial schools ever year.
“Without that donation this wouldn’t be possible,” Aldrich said, adding the money will pay for about 430 books — enough for every child in second and third grade, with some to spare.
According to Kevin Soucie, director of government affairs for CN, each of the three groups was awarded the maximum amount of funds they requested for their respective programs. The groups gathered in a conference room of the Portage Co. Annex Friday afternoon for check presentations and photos.
“I don’t think we’ve ever done a joint event like this before, where we do several contributions at one time,” Soucie said, as he waved his hand across the room. “It’s kind of cool because even though these organizations do different things, they’re all kind of connected — they’re all advancing the values of safe community, a healthy community and a prosperous community. Those are all values we have at CN.”