Former Beckley residents Mark and Teresa Neil say they discovered love for reading and the arts at a fairly young age.
The couple now hope to pass that love on to future generations in County Raleigh by establishing the Mark and Teresa Neil Family Fund.
The designated fund, established through the Beckley Area Foundation, will support reading programs that promote reading in elementary school as well as performing arts education in grades K-12 at schools in County Raleigh.
Teresa Neil said she remembers the joy of reading brought to her as a child because she wishes other children could have the same experience.
“I was a member of the Dr. Seuss Book Club when I was six and it was the most exciting thing when I came home and there was a book in the mailbox,” he said. she declared. “I have almost all memorized them. “
The couple said they also believe reading is one of the most important skills for a child to learn.
“Reading opens the door to the rest of the world,” said Mark Neil.
While the couple have now moved to the Northern Neck of Virginia after their retirement, they said Beckley still holds a special place in their hearts, having met while doing theater at Beckley.
“We’re getting to the point in our lives where we say, ‘Okay, we’ve got to do something’ and we’ve known (the Beckley Area Foundation) forever. . . and reading is important to us and the arts are important to us and County Raleigh is important to us, so that just seemed to fit, ”Teresa Neil said.
Teresa Neil said she hopes one of the things their fund can do is donate books to children who may not be able to afford them.
“We just think it’s very important,” she said. ” It is essential. If you can read, you can do it all.
Mark Neil said that they also chose to support the performing arts because it is through reading that many discover the arts.
“For me, the performing arts are a natural extension of the journey that begins with learning to read,” he said. “It allows the imagination that reading creates to take on other forms of expression and is so important to young people in their development.”
The couple said they intend to donate to this fund in the future and hope others will contribute to it as well.
Anyone interested in donating to this fund can send contributions with “Neil Family Fund” in the note to BAF, 129 Main St. Suite 301, Beckley, WV 25801 or donate online.
Those interested in creating a donor nominated fund or leaving a legacy donation can call BAF at 304-253-3806 or email [email protected]