Unsung heroes

John and Pam Horwich, who lead the nonprofit organization FireFlies, were nominated by readers as unsung heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

FireFlies distributes books and other learning materials for the summer to elementary school students in Central Oregon. It serves students in Juniper, Lynch, Ensworth elementary schools in Bend and Rosland Elementary School in La Pine. The program is specifically meant for students who need additional reading and math instruction.

Even with schools closed from the pandemic, the program is still offering the materials to the students this summer. The program recently received a $2,500 grant from the Ford Family Foundation to provide extra materials to students.

John Horwich said the teachers help assemble the materials into bags that students can take home. The teachers pick out books the students would be interested in, Horwich said.

“If there is an unsung hero here, it is the teachers who have taken this responsibility on,” Horwich said.

The program started in 2017 through the Horwichs’ church, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Oregon. Since it started, the program has served more than 475 students.


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