South Sound Reading Foundation Benefit Brings Ethan’s Smile

by James O’Barr

The South Sound Reading Foundation will host its annual benefit breakfast fundraiser, “Readers are Leaders,” at the Lacey Community Center on Thursday, April 11. The program will feature keynote speaker Stacy Chapin, founder of Ethan’s Smile, a non-profit foundation dedicated to the memory of her son, Ethan Chapin.

The South Sound Reading Foundation’s mission, according to Executive Director Jennifer Forster, is “to bring the joy and promise of reading to ALL South Sound children.” SSRF was created in 2001 by community members in Thurston and Mason counties after research was published showing that early reading proficiency and high school graduation rates were inextricably linked. Their initial goal was for 90 percent of all students to be reading at grade level by third grade, and to increase graduation rates. Since then, the organization, an affiliate of the national Children’s Reading Foundation, has grown and expanded exponentially. They partner with schools, daycares, early learning centers, and other community partners, to bring books to the kids being served. They also engage with schools and food banks to deliver thousands of books to homeless and low-income children. Leaving no child behind, including newborns, they provide talks and information to parents on the importance of reading, literacy, and brain development. Their Books for Babies and Born to Read programs distribute books and information to parents of infants, and the READY! for Kindergarten program is designed to help parents prepare their children for success in school. Not last or least, SSRF’s Literacy Champion Awards will be given out at the breakfast. According to Ms. Forster, these Awards are for both adults and young people, and for partner organizations, “who’ve gone above and beyond to promote literacy and learning.”

Ethan Chapin

Keynote speaker Stacy Chapin’s son Ethan is one of the four University of Idaho students murdered in Moscow, Idaho on the night of November 13, 2022. Ms. Chapin and her husband Jim Chapin have dedicated themselves to ensuring that Ethan’s bright promise lives on. (One can’t help reflecting here on another young life’s bright promise lost in nefarious circumstances, as Olympians and the Corrie family and their foundation commemorate Rachel Corrie’s birthday this week, and the twenty-first anniversary of her murder in Gaza.) “The Ethan’s Smile Foundation provides scholarships,” says Ms. Chapin, “that are intended to enable students to pursue their dreams and make a positive impact on the world, just as Ethan did.” In addition to creating the foundation, Ms. Chapin has written a book, The Boy Who Wore Blue. Intended for children of all ages and inspired by Ethan’s larger-than-life sense of fun and adventure, and his deep love of family and friends, she calls it “a timeless reminder of the transformative power of a joyful spirit and a beaming smile in our lives.”

WHAT South Sound Reading Foundation “Readers Are Leaders” Benefit Breakfast

Thursday, April 11, 2024, 7- 8:30 a.m.

Lacey Community Center, 6729 Pacific Avenue SE, Lacey, WA


(360) 412-4499

Skip to content