This post was written by springfieldauthor on October 21st, 2015
Care to Learn founder Doug Pitt announced Tuesday that former News-Leader publisher Linda Ramey-Greiwe has been named the new executive director for the organization.
Morey Mechlin, who has filled that position since shortly after the nonprofit was formed in 2008, decided to retire but will stay through the end of the month to aid in the transition.
“There is a huge need in this community. We have more and more children living in poverty,” Ramey-Greiwe said. “Having served on other committees including the Mayor’s Commission (for Children) and Impacting Poverty, I see it and I hear it. I know there is a great need. I am excited about the opportunity to help.”
Ramey-Greiwe has also served as board chair for the United Way and was involved with the News-Leader’s Every Child series, a public-service journalism project to focus public attention on critical challenges facing children.
Through her work with Every Child, Ramey-Greiwe said she came to understand the prevalence of under-resourced families in the Springfield area and the critical need for programs such as Care to Learn.
“It’s important that the community work on getting upstream on preventing poverty,” she said. “But I also think every day, while we are trying to do that, we have to help these kids get to school and stay in school.”
Care to Learn provides funds to meet emergent health, hunger and hygiene needs for children so they can be successful in school.
As of July 2015, more than 500,000 requests from students, items ranging from toothbrushes to hearing aids, have been fulfilled.
“If I have a toothache, if I can’t see the board, if I can’t hear, if I’m feeling hungry — my mind is not on math,” Pitt said. “That is where Care to Learn comes in. We fill those emergent health and hygiene needs.
“There’s no red tape, no forms to fill out,” he added. “If they’re hungry, let’s feed them. If they need clothes, let’s give it to them.”
Starting out working with Springfield Public Schools in 2008, Pitt’s Care to Learn “business model” was easily replicated by other districts. In 2009, Care to Learn chapters were formed in Bolivar, Ozark, Nixa and Ozarks Technical Community College.
Today, there are 24 chapters throughout the state with more in the planning stages.
“We are at a pivotal role where we spent the last eight years with some accelerated growth. We are probably one of the fastest-growing charities in the state of Missouri. But it’s been calculated growth,” Pitt said. “We need someone who is good at X’s and O’s, who is going to be disciplined. And we felt Linda was a great candidate.”
Care to Learn also hired Sara Lampe as deputy director, a new position charged with connecting with schools throughout the state.
Lampe is a four-term former state legislator and longtime advocate for children and education. She led the gifted program in Springfield Public Schools and was an advocate for equitable education for all children, according to a news release.
Mechlin said she is looking forward to retirement, traveling and becoming a reading buddy for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“I’m so appreciative to all our donors,” she said. “They have been so generous. They have shared the mission and taken it seriously.
“Everyone has realized they can be part of a child’s success and education.”
Jackie Rehwald, News-Leader6:25 a.m. CDT October 7, 2015