Kris Hoplin - Executive Director of Reach Out and Read

Kris Hoplin, Executive Director of Reach Out and Read, has 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector after attending both St. Olaf and the University of Chicago. Reach Out and Read is a program that helps increase literacy and give children a foundation for success by providing books to young people at doctor visits. The program, originally started in Boston, has been around for 35 years, and there are currently 300 participating clinics in Minnesota serving 165,000 children.
The program works by ensuring each child gets a brand new book upon visiting their doctor, and the book is used by the healthcare provider to help illustrate how parents should be reading and connecting with their children at home. The connection between books and visits to the doctor’s office is crucial, because even if children aren’t in school, most children are going to their doctor’s appointments. Additionally, healthcare providers are often a family’s most trusted source. Doctors can also use the books as developmental surveillance to check if children meet certain benchmarks for their age, helping with early childhood screening rates.
Kris Hoplin explained that a child’s first years are invaluable to their developmental success due to the millions of new neural connections their brains are forming. Hoplin points out several adverse childhood effects, or ACES, such as poverty, substance abuse, premature birth, and more whose negative effects can be combated by positive family and learning experiences such as reading with a parent or older sibling. Children who are read to more often have better emotional connections, improved language and listening skills, better future health and success, and are more likely to like reading, develop communication skills, patience, empathy, better literacy, better vocabulary, and reduced anxiety and stress. Even handling a book is good for children too young to read. Doctors and nurses, through the Mirrors and Windows initiative, are handing out books with more diverse themes and characters due to the observed benefits of children seeing role models that look like themselves in books.
Hoplin shared multiple findings that proved the effectiveness of the Reach Out and Read program, as the company has been doing research to improve and ensure their effectiveness. Reach Out and Read has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and shown to improve family behavior, increase the number of books in the home, help children earn higher language scores, and even increase clinic attendance and provider helpfulness ratings. Additionally, more children are going to their well child visits and getting  vaccines.

You can contribute to Hoplin’s endeavor by donating books, visiting clinics to provide support, and attending the Breakfast Benefit on Thursday, May 9, at 7:30 am to hear speakers and learn more.

Vocational: Holly Link

This week, we heard a vocational from Holly Link, current Communications & Marketing Director for Prop. Holly was born and raised in MN, where she spent her childhood climbing trees, going on walks, and enjoying time outside in nature. Her father was an architect and her mother was a home economist, while Holly preferred art and journalism and eventually got a degree in graphics communications.

After meeting her husband, the pair moved to California and Holly achieved her Master’s degree in clinical art therapy while becoming a mother to two children. In the 90s, her family moved back to Minnesota, where she began teaching art in schools. When Holly realized she wanted to do something more, she pursued a PhD in education administration and started teaching health coaches in a corporate setting. She also worked with a team to create the masters program at the University of Minnesota in health coaching.
More recently, Holly was invited to join Prop by Jennifer Loon, who was the Executive Director of Prop, and Holly became the Communications & Marketing Director. She would like to remind Rotarians to donate to the Minnesota Food Share drive. She also became a grandma again just two months ago, and another grandkid is on the way–best wishes to Holly!

Interesting Rotary Facts

  • Membership in Rotary develops leadership, public speaking, social, business, personal and vocational skills as well as improving cultural awareness.
  • Rotarians in the United States make up 28% of all Rotarians worldwide.


  • Bingo: Blake reported that—as most of the Bingo supplies have been already purchased—we have very little expense associated with our Bingo fundraising events. At our recent Bingo night (March 28), we cleared about $1600 for the EPAM Foundation. Our club will start monthly “cash bingo” events in July or August.
  • Pastor Rod Anderson had recent hip surgery. We wish him a speedy recovery!
  • Quarterly billing will be emailed to members later this week. Please see Carol if you have any questions regarding your EPAM Rotary bill.
  • Eco Expo: Plans are going well for the fundraising event on April 20. We have a record-breaking number of sponsors and exhibitors! And we have approximately $3500 worth of prizes for the raffle. We are still in need of about 10-15 volunteers for the event. A sign-up sheet was passed around. Janna demonstrated how to share the Facebook Rotary page with others. She will also send out an instructional email about this.

Future Meetings

  • April 16: Dan O’Connell , Roof Top Solar
  • April 20: Eco Expo—our fundraiser!
  • May 7: Sharon Borine & Irene Kelly, The Rotary Foundation (TRF) recipients
  • May 21: Greg Olson, Mentoring/Assistance for immigrants in MN

Duty Roster for next meeting (April 16)

  • Greeter: Patrick Donohue
  • Check-in: Dennis Kim
  • Inspiration: Dan O’Brien
  • Door Prize: Kelly Salwei
  • Vocational: Irene Kelly

Happy Fives

  • Jan Eian said that “EP Gives” (fundraiser for Eden Prairie Foundation) will be held on April 26. She placed flyers on the tables. Jan encourages all to attend and support this important cause!
  • Josh Swanson is happy to report that—to celebrate his wife’s 50th birthday—the family took a fun trip to the Grand Caymans. Josh is also pleased to announce that Robb Virgin and Felicia Thames will move into Eden Prairie School Assistant Superintendent positions!
  • Bill Gaddis had a fun vacation with his wife in St. Petersburg Beach, Florida last week!