Medical Center Hosts 23rd Annual Project Literacy Awards Reception

Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC) hosted the 23rd annual Project Literacy of Bergen County’s awards reception to recognize the achievements of adults who have made significant strides in literacy. Many Project Literacy board members, tutors, students, friends and family were in attendance to celebrate the gift that is often times overlooked – the ability to read and write.

After welcoming everyone in attendance, remarks were made by James Black, chairperson, Workforce Investment Board of Bergen County, and Kathleen Donovan, county executive of Bergen County. Both speakers praised the work of Project Literacy and the positive impact the organization has on individuals who have longed to obtain strong literacy skills.

The keynote address was given by Geraldo Rivera, an award-winning journalist and host of “Geraldo at Large” on the Fox News Channel. Mr. Rivera, who is recently celebrating 40 years as one of the country’s most enterprising and daring newsmen, shared his views on the English language being the key to success for all who live in America. He stressed that though people may know other languages, and it may, in fact, be their first language, it is invaluable to learn how to read, write and speak English to open the doors to new and exciting opportunities available to every citizen.

In addition, “Students of the Year” award winners read their stories to the audience to illustrate their journey in pursuing the goal of improving reading and writing skills. Each speaker expressed their heartfelt thanks to the program for guiding them along the way. Awards for “Corporation of the Year” and “Volunteers of the Year” were also bestowed.

At the conclusion of the event, an unexpected, surprise announcement was made: Grace Pichardo, of River Edge, Education and Special Projects coordinator, Department of Human Resources at HUMC, member-at-large of the Project Literacy Board of Trustees, was given an award for her dedicated service to Project Literacy, for serving on the Project Literacy Board of Trustees, for her financial support and for being a visionary and creating the highly successful Carmen Pichardo Scholarship Fund and the annual dance extravaganza fundraiser, Leap for Literacy. Ms. Pichardo is heavily committed to adult literacy and an enthusiastic supporter of Project Literacy.

“I’m extremely proud of Ms. Pichardo on her achievement,” said Nancy R. Corcoran, FACHE, of Montvale, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at HUMC. “Her unwavering support of this valuable program is recognized by many, and her noteworthy endeavors undoubtedly benefit adult literacy within our community.”

According to the State of Adult Literacy Report, nationwide, 44 million adults, or 23 percent of the population, struggle at the lowest levels of literacy.

To learn how you can become a part of the solution, or for more information on literacy efforts within Bergen County, call Project Literacy at 201-489-7066.