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Member Event Proves the Power of Words


Member Event Proves the Power of Words

When Marsha Tait, former senior vice president of public affairs at ProLiteracy, started her new role as executive director of Literacy Volunteers of Greater Syracuse (LVGS) in January 2010, she was met with an unfortunate trend: declining participation in the organization’s annual fundraising events.

The trend was not unique to LVGS. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, revenue from special events such as charity fundraisers has decreased since 2008. To counteract this trend, Tait harkened back to her days at ProLiteracy and remembered the long-standing partnership with the National Scrabble Association, which provided games, assistance, and prizes to affiliate organizations that held local Scrabble fundraising events. The partnership had since ended, but she knew several ProLiteracy member organizations still held local Scrabble tournaments. Tait decided to add LVGS to the list.

The first Central New York Scrabble Mania will be held Feb. 18 at the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel and Conference Center. Teams will compete against each other tobuild the highest scoring board in three 20-minute rounds of play. First, second, and third highest team scores will win prizes. The team with the highest overall tournament score will be engraved on the LVGS Scrabble Mania trophy.

“Since it is our first year, we wanted our goal to be achievable,” says Tait. “We wanted to fill 30 tables, which would mean 300 people. We have been so pleased at the response. The community has been very enthusiastic and we are sold out. I think we found a fun and gratifying way to spend a gray Friday evening in February in Syracuse.”

Participating in the LVGS Scrabble tournament costs $500 per table or $45 for individuals. Many local companies and organizations have stepped forward to make the event a success. ComSource; Stickley, Audi & Co.; The Post-Standard; and Syracuse University are just a few of the table sponsors. Alliance Bank, Polaris Library Systems, and the Central New York Community Foundation are among the five tournament sponsors.

Tait views Scrabble Mania as the organization’s signature fundraising event of the year. Proceeds will go to helping LVGS increase the number of instructional opportunities for adult learners in the Central New York community.

“We have 171 students actively engaged in instruction as of December 31—and another 75 people on our waiting list,” says Tait. “Real people from the community come to us for assistance every day. The support and visibility from Scrabble Mania will help us give them a positive experience and allow them to improve their lives, and the life of the community, through literacy.”

In advance of Scrabble Mania, ProLiteracy staff in Syracuse held a Scrabble tournament
as a fundraiser for the local organization. Five teams competed, raising more than $300 for LVGS.

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