Scrabble Challenge raises money for literacy

By Jennifer Holloway - Staff Writer
Enfield - posted Wed., May. 4, 2011
Somers High School Interact Club students Molly Rockett, senior, Adam Goodman, junior, and Sarah Goodman, senior, were the youngest players at the Scrabble Challenge. Photos by Jennifer Holloway.
Somers High School Interact Club students Molly Rockett, senior, Adam Goodman, junior, and Sarah Goodman, senior, were the youngest players at the Scrabble Challenge. Photos by Jennifer Holloway.

“Until third grade, children are learning to read. After third grade, they are reading to learn.” George Burtch, vice president of global integration at Hasbro Games, repeated this literacy adage at the seventh annual Scrabble Challenge for Literacy to benefit Literacy Volunteers of America Northern Connecticut, whose mission is to eradicate illiteracy in the community.

Several companies and organizations gathered at the Enfield Holiday Inn on Thursday, April 28, to play a game of team Scrabble to raise money to help LVANC continue to provide free tutorial services for people needing to improve reading, writing and oral communication skills. Some teams, like those from Rockville Bank and New England Bank, had their game faces on, forging a friendly rivalry to make the game interesting.

Bill McGurk, the recently-retired president and CEO of Rockville Bank, said his team wanted to recapture the championship from years back, and they were motivated to achieve that goal.

Dave O’Connor, president of New England Bank, said his team’s goal was to support the literacy volunteers… and beat Rockville Bank.

The Mass Mutual team came prepared to capture the 100 extra points given to teams in costume. Each player wore a lettered shirt to spell out “Scrabble.” Pat Margolfo, the table’s leader, said her team wanted to beat the librarians - the 2010 champions - so they recruited for this year’s event. “We also brought lots of money for extra letters,” she said, waving a stack of dollar bills.

The game could be played fair and square, or players could pay to cheat, buying dictionary peaks or extra letters. Unusual letters like “z” cost the most.

Peter Falk, president of the LVANC board of directors, said he enjoyed watching people’s faces and expressions during the night. “It’s a fun Scrabble event, not a serious one,” he said.

Dr. Martha McLeod, president of Asnuntuck Community College and emcee for the night, had the same opinion, as she said her role was to ensure lots of silliness took place.

And it did. Throughout the game, team members raced back and forth buying letters, and tables chanted and cheered, hoping to win the award for most spirit. American Eagle Credit Union took home that award, possibly due to their wide collection of plastic noisemakers.

Through the folly, teams kept the true mission of the night at the forefront of their minds. Julie Lai, of Julie’s Laundromat & Cleaners, started volunteering with LVA in 1992. When her family moved from China, she tried helping them with English, but said they always reverted back to Chinese. A tutor from LVA got involved.

“They can now hold down jobs,” she said. She’s been involved with the organization ever since.

At the end of the night, more than 60 prizes donated by local businesses were raffled off, and 16 more prizes went up for live auction. McGurk and Rockville Bank did recapture the championship, and Enfield Library received the Almost Made it to the Top award, or second place. Mass Mutual’s Scrabble shirts won them the Best Costume award, and Enfield Food Shelf and Enfield Community Federal Credit Union tied for having the most words about weather - the theme for the game.


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