BANGOR, Maine — In celebration of their new Bangor branch, Katahdin Trust Co. officials unveiled an initiative Tuesday that will benefit a children’s reading program coming to Bangor Public Library this fall.
The program, called Reading Buddies, will match adult volunteers with children ages 4 to 14. The adults will read aloud to the children for at least half an hour each week, and children will read aloud to adults, Katahdin Trust Senior Vice President Vicki Smith and library director Barbara McDade said Tuesday.
The idea is to help children improve their reading skills and confidence and foster their love of books.
If time permits, a volunteer may assist a student with homework or even do research on interesting topics at the library, all of which encourages the young participant to enjoy reading and learning new ideas.
If all goes according to plan, the program will begin in mid-October, McDade said.
The initiative was unveiled Tuesday during a luncheon at Peirce Park hosted by Katahdin Trust officials. Library representatives, Bangor city councilors and other dignitaries were on hand for the announcement.
Also on hand were Atticus the Listening Lab and Miguel the Listening Poodle, who will take part in special Reading Buddies activities. The dogs are intended to help build confidence in children, who get to read to them in a relaxed environment.
Smith said officials from the bank, which just opened a new branch in the Broadway Shopping Center, were looking for opportunities to get involved in the community when they learned that the library wanted to launch the program but lacked the necessary funding.
To that end, Katahdin Trust will donate $25 for each new account opened at its new Bangor office, located at 609 Broadway next to T.J. Maxx, up to a total of $10,000.
McDade hopes to see as many as 2,000 area children take part in the program. She said the funding from Katahdin Trust will cover special activities and events as well as bus passes for children and adults who otherwise would not be able to get to the library.
Being read to has proven benefits for children, McDade said.
“Studies have shown that you really need to read to your child until they’re in the eighth grade, and that’s what really prompted us to develop this program,” she said, adding that the International Reading Association says the best 9-year-old readers in 32 countries were those who had been read to the most by adults.
McDade said the library is grateful for the bank’s support.
“It’s a critical part of our Reading Buddies budget to have their active participation, and I am grateful to Katahdin Trust Company for all their assistance and willingness to step up to help others,” she said.
Katahdin Trust had operated only a commercial loan office in Bangor until early August, when it opened the full-service branch at 609 Broadway.
“It has long been Katahdin Trust Company’s commitment to work in the community. Our mission extends beyond offering a unique brand of banking to families and business owners in the Bangor area,” Regional Vice President Danelle Weston, who is managing the new office, said Tuesday.
“We will be working both corporately and individually in civic, charitable, educational and economic development endeavors throughout the community, as we seek to enhance the quality of life we share,” she added.
McDade said the library is seeking adult volunteers to read aloud to children for at least 30 minutes a week.
For more information about Reading Buddies, call the library’s children’s department at 947-8336, ext. 111. Applications are available at the library and on the library’s website, www.bpl.lib.me.us.