If you want to be free, all you have to do is read

This post is far afield from weddings and commercial work, but we hope it inspires you a little bit, nonetheless.Last year, we discovered the Emerging Readers program of the United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County.Volunteers are matched with a child at one of the United Way partner agencies and buys books for that child three times per year.When I was a kid, I loved reading. I can still remember the thrills of reading “Black Stallion,” “Little House on the Prairie,” and “Man o’ War.”I was captivated by the great sea adventures and races of “Black Stallion.” I can still remember reading how Laura Ingalls Wilder was thrilled to receive the gift of white sugar at Christmastime in order to make special treats, and how hard her parents worked to keep their farm afloat. I was hooked for life on how reading could transport me to places I’d never heard of and introduce me to people that I’d love to have made friends with.So, that’s why I volunteered to get books for Thomas, a third-grader in Milwaukee Public Schools. Not only did I have the pleasure of giving my reading buddy some new books, but I treated myself to three great outings to Half Price Books, scouring the shelves for my reading buddy, hoping the array of topics and types of books would be age-appropriate and fun. I also included a few fun toys — rewards for his reading efforts — and a handwritten note, explaining how much reading has meant to me over the years and how much fun it can bring into Thomas’ life.Now, how does all of this relate to Sweet Pea Cinema?This year we attended a fantastic week-long conference on video production, and one of the big takeaways for us was that we should really carve out time to do a couple of passion projects each year. I couldn’t think of a better program to support with a video than the Emerging Readers program, so I contacted the program’s director and asked if I could film during the last book drop-off of the year. Jessica Wagner Schulz was on board.We settled on the final book drop-off of the year for kids at the United Community Center. Filming and just plain watching the kids open their packages was a great way to spend a morning, and developing the video was a labor of love, too. Special thanks to United Way’s Brian McKaig, who contributed footage from an earlier book drop-off! A big thanks to Joe Gerhke, a member of the United Way’s Emerging Leaders group, for agreeing to be interviewed and explain why the program means so much to him and his family. I also have to thank the UCC’s Joanna Rivas and Erika Ysaias for helping with the drop-off, and Jessica from the United Way, for letting us film and helping our efforts on that day, too.Lastly, I’d like to thank the 108 emerging readers who joined the program and showed such an enthusiasm for reading.I started out the video with a little quote from Frederick Douglass, and I think it’s fitting to end this post with it:

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”

So, we hope you enjoy this little art piece and don’t hesitate to volunteer for the Emerging Readers program!If you’d like to get more information about the Emerging Readers program, please visit the United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County or call (414) 263-8100.Cheers,cindy profile pic II