Written by Chris McGilvery
I remember vividly when we came up with the name Give More HUGS for the new nonprofit in 2012. My wife Taryn McGilvery and I were living in Dominica and our time on the island changed our lives. The experiences on the island were simple, inspiring, and unforgettable. We didn’t have a vehicle and walked everywhere – whether it was to school, work, the grocery store, etc. The community, the experiences, and the happiness of many people forever changed us. Every time we went home to Texas, we would go to the clearance aisles to get clothing, art and school supplies and more to give away to children in Dominica. Taryn was able to pursue her dreams of becoming a doctor and I was inspired to start a nonprofit to help support children with their educational endeavors.
The decision to start Give More HUGS stemmed from the life-changing experiences in the Caribbean nation of Dominica, where I met students that reminded me of my mother. My mother had to quit school at age 11 to work on her family’s farm in the Philippines. Being around these students took me back to my first teaching job, where I taught 1st and 2nd grade recent immigrants in Midland, Texas. Many of my students came from trauma and needed a supportive learning environment and resources to excel. The time I spent in Dominica made me question why we go through life without actively working together to create and support better education for all the children in all our communities.
Fast forward to over 8 years of volunteering to run a nonprofit, we have evolved in so many ways to support students in need. Since our founding, we have empowered 1,157 students and 103 teachers to further our BookShare, backpack and literacy based service projects. Our network of students and teachers has activated over 5,000 students across the nation and globally to assist with service projects. These service projects have impacted over 42,000 students in Title I schools and at schools abroad. It has been an amazing journey. I realize the importance of the teachers, students and community members with whom we work. They have helped shape who we are today!
As we continue to empower teachers and students to impact students’ lives at Title 1 schools, it is important that it is easy to understand who we are and what we do. There is a lot in a name. We want to make it clear, simple, and easy for teachers, students, and community members to know who we are and what we do! This is why we have decided to change the name of the nonprofit organization-Give More HUGS. The work we do will be for the same purpose–to help students in underserved communities. We will still have the same great projects focused around empowering teachers and students. Since our name change was approved by the Secretary of State in Texas, we wanted you to be the first to know, we are now:
The Leaders Readers Network.
[Insert loud cheers and many claps; Smile so big just like the students we support]
We invite you to celebrate this new milestone with us! Join us for a virtual rebrand launch party for the reveal of our new logo, new website, and hear great stories from our network of teachers and students.
We are excited to be The Leaders Readers Network!!!
Click here to RSVP for our virtual rebrand launch party! 🙂