iWRITE Hosts an Educational Soiree of Young Writers
In their mission to empower the young as the next generation of writers, The iWRITE Literacy Organization hosted their annual Luncheon & Book Signing, held on November 5, 2016 at the Hilton Americas in Downtown Houston. Sixty five deserving children had the privilege of seeing their stories, poems, and artwork showcased in a yearly anthology, and professionally published and made available at bookstores and online at Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com. These gifted and talented child writers are able to achieve a goal at a young age that many aspiring adults never realize.
Co-hosts for the event were Debbie Pakzaban and M.A.D.E. Founder, 9-yr old Yash Semlani. This year Houston Astros Catcher, Jason Castro and wife, Maris were the Honorary Luncheon Chairs and recognized Jeff Cohen, Executive Vice President and Editor of the Houston Chronicle for his contribution to the literary field.
Amongst the many distinguished young writers was Shruti Chakraborty whose powerful poem “Peace In the Womb”, speaks to the atrocities committed against girls in the third world. This piece not only highlights Shruti’s talent as a poet, but shows a wisdom and understanding far beyond her years. She, and the 64 other young artists, are a testament to creativity and imagination of today’s youth.
Attended by more than 400 guests, the event kicked off with an awards ceremony, recognizing 70 student authors and illustrators from across the country. The awards ceremony was followed by the main program, the annual iWRITE Luncheon where guests heard from Houston Astros All-Star Player Jason Castro and his wife Maris Castro, who served as the Honorary Chairs, the iWRITE Board President Elaine Croucher, Honoree Jeff Cohen and iWRITE Founder Melissa Williams. Ten-year-old entrepreneur Yash Semlani was the event co-host joined by Houston Philanthropist Debbie Pakzaban. As the first child host, Semlani represents the iWRITE anthology theme of “By Kids, For Kids,” and was just one of many unique twists on the original event concept.
“Through the years, children have been at the center of this event, with more than 350 student authors and illustrators published,” said Williams. “Including Yash, as a host, and the Castro’s, who also have a non-profit geared toward empowering children through literacy, was a natural fit for this year’s event. We are living the mission and it’s important that new and existing donors have the chance to see that.”
The event also served as the public debut for iWRITE’s mascot “i” The Guy. As the official fictional role model of the organization, “i” The Guy is the main character found inside the pages of the iWRITE interactive journal targeted toward elementary-aged students in order to get kids to write for fun. The journal is aimed to create a positive association to writing in order to offset the negative attitude toward standardized writing required in elementary school. “i” The Guy speaks to the readers using comic book bubbles in order to encourage the kids to participate in fun and interactive writing prompts.
Special guests included: Maris & Jason Castro, Jeff Cohen, Melissa Wilson, Dr. Julie Baker Fink, Stephanie Tsuru, Vivian Dugger, Neal Hamil, Debbie Pakzaban, Tracy and Harry Faulkner, Logan Lester, Donae Chramosta, Rick, Kevin Gordon, Eric Lui and Michelle Sacks.
Learn more about the iWRITE Literacy Organization at iwrite.org.