How Reading is Healing a Fractured County

Seminole County is situated in the southwest corner of the state, where 26 percent of families live below the poverty line. All the essential services in this 257-square-mile county—doctors, stores, library—are located in Donalsonville, the only city in Seminole.

“Without public transportation, the poor are trapped,” said Beth Capuson, coordinator of Seminole County Family Connection Collaborative from 2008 through 2015. “Many of our families lose hope. Resources are too far away, and they cost too much. But we are slowly turning that hopelessness into hope by working together.”

During her time as coordinator, Beth inspired county leaders to collaborate in new ways with striking results. In 2006 only 72 percent of Seminole’s third graders were reading on or above grade level. By 2013 that rate climbed to 95 percent.

This journey began seven years ago with a $3,500 Communities of Opportunity grant. The return on that investment yielded a reading lab, family game nights, pajama parties where children received AR books, and outreach to teen mothers about talking to their babies. It became an all-in effort that reached throughout the county. The belief was, and continues to be, that creating strong readers could heal the hopelessness that fractured Seminole’s families.

Seminole County lost its strongest advocate when Beth passed away in December. But her passion and legacy continue to thrive. Watch her final message as only Beth, through her infectious smile and passion for the children and families in her county, can inspire us to get Georgia reading.

Go back to hear from Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald about what we can do to ensure healthy brain development in early childhood and close the word gap once and for all.