By: Korey Wilson

April 23, 2014

STAMFORD — Several NBC employees took a break from their jobs working on some of America’s most popular talk shows to read books to kindergartners and first graders on Tuesday.

Executives from NBC Universal’s Stamford Media Center visited Toquam Magnet School to read to students as part of the Business to Books Read-a-thon sponsored by The Volunteer Center of United Way.

As first-grade students gathered around NBC General Manager Vinnie Fusco, he asked them about some of their favorite TV shows.

“TV is fun. I make my living from being in TV,” he told the students.

“But you know what’s even better than TV?” he asked.


Fusco, who has participated in the read-a-thon for the last five years, read two books: “Our Tree Named Steve” by Alan Zweibel and “The Art Lesson” by Tomie dePaola.

“Business to Books” Read-a-thon

“You get to take a break from work to come out for an hour and see these amazing wide-eyed children,” Fusco said of the experience.

“It just feels good.”

The Business to Books Read-a-thon program, was launched in January 2002 by the Workplace Volunteer Council, a coalition of businesses within The Volunteer Center to promote volunteerism in the community.

“The idea is to bring corporate employee volunteers into the public schools to read to students in kindergarten to grade 2,” said Bridget Fox, executive V.P. of volunteerism for The Volunteer Center of United Way.

“It’s really an effort to boost literacy and encourage kids to love reading. It also gives our corporate partners a chance to come out into the community and get a sense of what our school system is like.”

This spring, volunteers will visit seven Stamford elementary schools from several local companies including Nestle Waters, Pitney Bowes and General Electric.

“Volunteerism has always been a big part of what we do at NBC Universal,” said Fusco.

“When this program was presented to us five years ago, we thought it would be a great natural connection for us to be a part of the community and relate to these young children.”

The Business-to-Books Read-a-thon is one of several community projects of the United Way’s Workplace Volunteer Council.

“Over the course of a year, we bring corporate volunteers out of their environments to volunteer at the schools and non-profits,” said Bridget Fox, executive V.P. of volunteerism of the United Way’s Volunteer Center.

The Workplace Volunteer Center holds a summer reading program, where volunteers read to students at local community centers. The Workplace Volunteer Council also sponsors a back-to-school initiative to provide backpacks and winter clothes for students.

“Its always so fun to be in front of a group of kids. They say the least expected things and it certainly takes you out of your pressure-filled world and brings you back to reality,” said Fox.

“There’s nothing more fun.”