Aiken Rotarians learn about origin of Rotary Reader program

May 7, 2019

The woman who came up with the concept for the Rotary Reader program was the guest speaker during the Rotary Club of Aiken’s meeting Monday at Newberry Hall.

Dr. Frances Ferrene of Hilton Head Island discussed how she developed a plan to help young students who might benefit from having adult advisers and confidants.

“After teaching science and physical education for a number of years, I became a counselor at Hilton Head Island Elementary School,” she said. “I was pretty overwhelmed with children who needed a counselor. But I soon found they did not really need a counselor, they needed a friend.”

Most of those youngsters had several things in common.

“They really had great potential,” Ferrene said. “Many of them could not read, and many of them had been in trouble. I decided I needed help.”

She thought about asking high school students to get involved, and she also reached out to her husband, who is an attorney.

“I talked with Otto about Rotarians, and in conversation, I said, ‘You know, they make great mentors,’” Ferrene remembered.

He played an important role in convincing his fellow Rotarians that reading with kids was a good investment of their time.

Around 1989, the Rotary Reader program was launched officially.

Rotary Club of Aiken members are Rotary Reader volunteers at East Aiken School of the Arts.

For more information about the Rotary Club of Aiken, visit aikenrotary.com.