United Through Reading’s Storytelling Ball shines with patriotism | Coronado Island News
The United Through Reading Storytelling Ball on November 6 was a festive event that brought the community together to celebrate a program designed to “unite military families facing physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading to high voice”. The ballroom at Loews Coronado Bay Resort was dazzled by formal wear, military uniforms and tuxedos and attendees filled the room with chatter and mirthful laughter. The 350 business leaders, senior military leaders, longtime supporters and military families gathered to honor the organizations and individuals who have made Untied Through Reading the lifeblood it is in the military community.
The presentation of the colors, the national anthem and the invocation opened the ball. Catherine Garcia of NBC 7 San Diego greeted the guests and Sally Zoll, General Manager, added her welcome remarks and pre-dinner remarks.
Comments from the evening from guests as well as speakers highlighted the program’s impact on the families who participate in the read-aloud experience.
Offering “recognition to business, public policy and military leaders whose vision and support have been essential to achieving the mission of United Through Reading (UTR)” was another aspect of the evening.
The Audrey Geisel Friend of Military Children Award was presented to author Jeff Gottesfeld and illustrator Matt Tavares, the author and illustrator of “Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown.” The award honored their collaboration in highlighting the history of the Tomb Guards while connecting with military families. The book explains the meaning of the various symbolic elements associated with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers in an easy-to-understand manuscript for children.
The Reveille award was given to Veterans United Home Loans, honored “for its visionary action on behalf of military and veteran families.”
Vice Admiral Stephen T. “Web” Koehler, Commander Third Fleet, was the military guest of honor. He paid tribute to the military community saying “they know they are committed to sacrifice.” His praise of the UTR emphasized the unifying element of family, involving both children and parents.
A video of families participating in the reading or recounting the impact of the program in their lives underscored the reach and value the UTR has established in the military community. During the 2020 pandemic, family relationships have become even more important. “United Through Reading has connected 2.5 million military family members – through deployments, exercise weekends and now through global pandemics. Storytime with United Through Reading helps families stay connected, stay resilient, and develop a love of reading. United Through Reading connects military families who are separated – for military deployment or posting – by providing the bonding experience of a shared story hour.
UTR began 32 years ago in San Diego by the wife of a flight surgeon, a reading specialist, and has grown to more than two million participants who have shared stories across miles with children. A simple concept, it has been refined and made readily available. “The service member reads a book while being recorded on one of our Story Stations or our free app and sends the video and book to the child’s home. The child at home watches the video and follows the book. While the child is watching the video, the caregiver captures the child’s reaction in an email, photo or video and sends it back to the service member. The service member receives feedback and is encouraged to re-read.”
A parent’s story time, even on video, before bedtime or on rainy days or during lonely times can soothe the anxiety of children who may feel abandoned when parents go missing for weeks or years. months in a row. As Vice Admiral Koehler said, “Being deployed makes you realize the importance of routine things.”
The UTR has become an important way to keep families connected and resilient during separations.