The Biscayne Bay Kiwanis Club, one of South Florida’s most active community service organizations, recently launched a unique Barbershop Reading Program designed to encourage inner city youngsters to improve their reading skills.
Located at the Just Right Barber Shop, 1133 NW Third Ave. in Over town, the program, called “Read & Cut 1, 2, 3” provides books for elementary-aged students in the area.
“Our club has been reading with inner city kids for 20 years on the first Wednesday of each month,” said Biscayne Bay Kiwanis Board member Lew Matusow. “And while test scores show we have made a positive impact, we were looking for a way to expand our program further in the community.
“This program does just that by putting books in the hands of kids and encouraging them to read outside of school,” he added. “A child chooses a book, reads out loud while getting a haircut at a discount, and then the child gets to take a book home to keep.”
The program, which is being promoted in two nearby schools with eye-catching flyers, is a partnership between the Biscayne Bay Kiwanis, Just Right Barber Shop and Read to Learn Books for Free, a program funded by The Children’s Trust and operated by the Miami Book Fair.
“This is really becoming popular; we can barely keep the books on the shelf,” said Pastor Willie L. Williams, owner of the 68-year-old Just Right Barber Shop, which is the oldest continuous running business in Overtown. “When we were approached by Kiwanis, we told them we liked the idea and would support it wholeheartedly. Encouraging kids to embrace reading at an early age is good for the kids and good for the community.”
In addition to the Barbershop Reading Program, the 68-year-old club’s very successful programs include an in-school reading program to help second graders pass the EOY (End of Year) Exam, funding of summer swim lessons, lessons in etiquette, civics, and life skills, and guided tours/field trips to Everglades National Park and South Florida museums.
During the past seven years the BBKC has awarded more than $200,000 in college scholarships throughout Miami-Dade County, including an annual full, four-year college scholarship to a deserving Booker T. Washington High School senior.
For more information about the Biscayne Bay Kiwanis or to join in one of their community service projects, text or phone the club at 305-814-2225.