Founders Awardee Spotlight: Ginny & Roger Carlson

WITS is proud to honor 14 individuals who laid the foundation for creating the organization we are today.

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 “People want to help children [and WITS offers that opportunity]. Everybody wants the world to be a better place and that starts with making kids feel important.” Since the founding years, Ginny and Roger Carlson have helped WITS make connections and build community.

Upon learning about WITS from founders Marion Stone and Joanne Alter, Ginny Carlson became involved as a Classroom Reading Tutor. With a background in education and volunteering with children, Ginny eagerly boarded the bus each week to work with a class of sixth graders at Manierre Elementary. As a guest in the classroom and community, building trust with students and teachers was a vitally important part of the work. “We were there strictly as a support vehicle for teachers and students.” Through consistent volunteering and mentoring, Ginny became embedded in the school community as a champion for literacy.

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To guide the growth of WITS a Board of Directors was established. Compelled by the organization’s mission, Roger joined the newly established Board, along with Ginny, to add his financial expertise. Furthering his involvement, Roger recruited a group of colleagues from Morgan Stanley to volunteer with him over the lunch hour at Perez Elementary School. The Carlsons recognized the value of mentorship and the need for impassioned readers. To increase the number of students served, they supported WITS’ development of the Workplace Mentoring and Mid-Day Mentoring programs to activate the corporate sector in volunteerism. “Everybody wants to give back and WITS is the ideal situation. We are all very busy, but this is a chance to conveniently give back in an important way and make a difference in lives of young people.” To further expand opportunities for students, Ginny and Roger set the foundation for the WITS on Campus and WITS Early Childhood programs; exposing students to university life alongside WITS’ signature literacy mentorship, and preparing students entering Kindergarten with the basis to successfully emerge as readers.

As WITS nears 25 years of service, it is the impact and the stories that propel the Carlsons to continue their advocacy. It is encouraging students to become avid learners, creating communities of volunteers, and the lasting impressions of mentorship that has led the Carlsons to welcome WITS into their family. “All of this has been a beautiful and rewarding process that we have loved. We feel so privileged to have been here from the beginning and to watch how WITS has grown.”