is to provide children with love, help them attain literacy, and give some of the basic necessities of life that will enable them to grow, function, and successfully contribute their talents and abilities to their families and communities.
L3 | LOVE LITERACY LIFE got its start in the fall of 2014 after Board Member Kimberley Montini, a teacher at Mark Twain Elementary in Kansas City, KS confided to a friend that there were children at her school who were in dire need. Too many did not have adequate winter shoes or coats and the teachers and staff were not able to collect enough to provide for each. They needed help, and to answer that call a group of people came together to offer assistance.
Later in December we learned of another need. The vast majority of Mark Twain students qualify for free breakfast and lunch at school, which can often be their only meals of the day. Yet during the holidays they would lack these, and year after year the staff and teachers at the school did what they could to collect food for the break. Out of this simple conversation came the manpower, energy, and resources to send each child home with two heaping bags full of food they could easily prepare if a parent or caregiver was not available.
It was clear the needs of these sweet children would not go away any time soon, and it was clear there were many people in the community who wanted to help. It was also clear that besides helping with food and clothing, the teachers and staff wanted to help the students in another crucial way.
During the three month summer break all students slide backwards a bit, but they generally regain what was lost during the first few weeks of school. Due to a variety of circumstances, students in economically challenged areas often don’t make up for the lost learning. The slide sticks and continues throughout their education, and we all know literacy is one of the most important avenues to bring people out of poverty. By combining manpower, Mark Twain staff and teachers along with volunteer help from L3 were able to create a summer enrichment program at the school that is open to every student. Test scores showed an 80% decrease in reading loss among those students who participated in 2016.
In order to solidify our commitment to the children of Mark Twain, we gained 501(c)(3) status and work closely together as a Board of Directors so that no one of us feels overwhelmed by the work we do. It has been our privilege to serve the children at Mark Twain Elementary, and other schools in the area, and we look forward to the years to come. We hope you will join us.
OFFICERS & BOARD OF DIRECTORS
PRESIDENT | EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Melanie Hart Shashindranath became Executive Director in March 2016. Her world travels and religious focus on serving and charity have provided her with a passion to serve in and around the Mark Twain Elementary community. Melanie and her husband have one son and two daughters, and she works part-time at Deloitte Tax LLP as a tax accountant.
DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION
Kimberley Montini’s experiences as a teacher at Mark Twain Elementary formed the catalyst to start L3 in 2014. Awarded Teacher of the Year for Kansas City, Kansas in 2016, Kimberley is recognized for her passion to help all children receive a quality education. Service has always been and continues to be a crucial part of her life. Kimberley and her husband have two daughters and two sons.
Holley M. Harwood was excited to be a part of L3’s humble beginnings in November 2014. Her goal is to ensure that each willing volunteer has a place and feels needed, and she loves the work of sorting, reading, hauling, greeting and interacting with children. Holley was a teacher with the Long Beach Unified School District in California before moving to Kansas. She and her husband have four wonderful children that support and inspire her.
Karin Thomas became Director of Public Relations in March 2016. Her service in the community has included mentoring refugees, leading creative writing at a juvenile detention center, serving on the boards of non-profits dedicated to promoting local organic farms and incubating sustainability group. She loves her work with L3 and the Mark Twain community. Karin and her husband have four children and two grandchildren.
EDUCATOR | SCHOOL LIAISON
COMMUNITY VOLUNTEER OUTREACH
SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER
FUNDRAISING | LOGISTICS
CLOTHING FAIR CO-CHAIR
CLOTHING FAIR CO-CHAIR
CLASSROOM SUPPLIES CHAIR