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Help Somebody Spotlight: Sam Baronian Jr., Board President, The READ Center

We love sharing stories and examples of people giving back in our community – investing their time, talent or treasure with local organizations.  Sam Baronian Jr. is a shining example of this and was selected to be inducted into the “Help Somebody Hall of Fame” for February 2018!

Lisa Fitz-Coy, Marketing and Development Assistant for The READ Center nominated him, saying that he is a very “accessible and active” Board President.  Executive Director for the READ Center, Karen La Forge, agrees saying, “Sam is one of the most committed and caring Board members I have ever worked with. His greatest strength as a board member is his ability and willingness to connect READ to other organizations and individuals in the community for partnerships, funding and awareness.”

Read more about Sam and his work with READ:


How does Sam demonstrate the spirit of the “Help Somebody Hall of Fame”? 

Sam Baronian is the founding partner at Baronian and Associates, a civil practice law firm, and is a champion and advocate for adult literacy. He has served as The READ Center’s Board President for the past two years. His service with READ began more than 10 years ago as a volunteer tutor, helping adults in our community improve their literacy skills. The READ Center provides classes and one-to-one tutoring to low-level literate adults. Learning to read as an adult is challenging, and serving as an adult literacy tutor requires patience, caring, and commitment, qualities Sam has in spades.

Sam, joined by Nausha Brown Chavez, READ’s Education Program Manager, and Dawniece Trumbo, Volunteer Coordinator at our Jingle and Mingle Volunteer Celebration.

As Board Chair, Sam is incredibly supportive of staff, often stopping by the office just to ask, “What’s good today?” He is always seeking new opportunities to help READ’s programs thrive through his support of READ’s fundraising efforts. He connects the dots by identifying partnership opportunities for READ to collaborate with other organizations and expand our reach so that more students can be served, and more volunteers recruited to support our efforts. Sam is an ambassador for many great causes in addition to adult literacy. He has served on the board of Coal Pit Learning Center and continues to support the Center. He is a Rotarian with Innsbrook Rotary and serves on the St. John’s Church Foundation’s Board of Trustees and is currently Chairman of the Development Committee.

Sam has been asked to be part of a panel discussion by the Community Foundation’s Board Leadership Program. Sam will be joined by the READ Executive Director to talk about what makes a good Board President/Executive Director relationship.

Sam welcomes students and tutors to READ’s annual Super Bowl Tailgate.


What is the impact of Sam’s generosity? 

Sam leads by example. Sam’s leadership and financial support of READ have been instrumental in helping our organization provide services to over 200 students last year, a 29% increase. Students made strides toward their personal goals, like getting a driver’s license, increasing their confidence and self-esteem, entering education programs, such as getting their GED, and more. In addition, 53 new tutors joined READ as volunteers.

READ’s growth has enabled us to incorporate math and digital skills into the curriculum, pilot an online reading app, increase instruction time with a new three 15-week semester schedule, and pilot a health literacy class. Sam is also leading The READ Center Board in a fundraising challenge in which the funds raised to match the challenge must come from board efforts. The challenge will result in additional funding for READ, but also a board with fundraising skills and experience. As he steps down as Board President of The READ Center in June, we couldn’t think of a better way to honor all Sam has done for The READ Center and improving the lives of adult learners in our community than by recognizing him in the Help Somebody Hall of Fame.

Sam and Karen La Forge, READ’s executive director joined by representatives of Bon Secours Richmond Health Foundation, sponsors of our fall 2017 event, Read Between the Wines.

About the Help Somebody Hall of Fame

The Help Somebody Hall of Fame is a platform to express gratitude for a person in the community who acts selflessly to improve the lives of others.  We want to share these stories in hope of inspiring more people in Greater Richmond to act with generosity.  There will be random drawing from those who are honored, and two honorees will select a nonprofit of their choice to receive $1000.  Read more about how to nominate someone here.

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