Making a Difference

Pamela Good – Beyond Basics

Birmingham resident Pamela Good certainly lives up to her name. She works tirelessly to help children without means who live in the city of Detroit to better their lives. It all started in 1999 and originally was a coat donation project. Then she started reading with kids, setting up book clubs and publishing centers so they could create their own books. That’s when she started to see a real problem. She realized how many kids were reading far below grade level and knew something had to be done about it. So she took reading on as a major project. First, she put together a group and set up pilot programs, looking at their viability for two years. The response of the kids was strong, so she enlisted the help of a dear friend, Joanne Wagerson, to co-found an organization called Beyond Basics. In February of 2002, they registered as a non-profit with the lofty goal of changing the destinies of children.

We work with the most vulnerable kids in our community – those who have transient lives, are inadequately fed, kids who end up in foster care with parents in jail and kids in other tragic and terrible circumstances with very needy lives. We have to get children to believe in themselves and get them reading. With these two things, they can be successful. These kids are forced to live on the fringe because they don’t have skills. But I thank God that there is a solution. We can get kids reading in six weeks – even high school kids. We have a solution and if we embrace it, that will change everything.

Pamela Good

President, Beyond Basics

The reading program used is called Tattum Reading, developed by Steve Tattum. Pamela says, “He developed a curriculum that breaks the English language into 25 concepts that’s very teachable. It’s great for kids who have brain injuries, dyslexia, or English for second language learners. And it works amazingly well with our students.” The Beyond Basics concept is dependent on volunteerism. More than 3,000 people help annually in one way or another. Volunteer opportunities exist at many levels and are tailor made to fit your schedule. You can give as much or as little time as you have available. You can be a Reading Buddy in a Beyond Basics classroom, requiring a minimum of one hour a week during the school year. You can work with students in the Publishing Center helping them put together their books. You can help with field trips and other special events or assist with projects in the Art with the Master’s program. All of these activities work to inspire the children and to help them develop the skills they need to have successful lives. To sign up, just call Johanna Zwally (Outreach Director) at 248-250- 9304 EXT 104 or email him at

1566But that’s not all. If you are self-motivated, you could set up book, coat, food or supply drives and assist with other fundraising activities. If you’re creative, there is a program that works to develop inspirational bookmarks for the students. There is also a need for people to sort and label donated books. People are coming up with more ideas all the time. If you have some extra time, I can’t think of a better way to spend it. If you don’t have time, you can always donate money. The program is supported by 67 staff members. Pamela (President and Director) describes five “Guiding Principles” for the organization and its volunteers. They are: 1 – Respect. 2 – Positive Energy. 3 – Task Focus, 4 – Collaboration and 5 – Continuous Improvement. With these philosophies, the staff works together to be the best they can be in order to help children to be the best they can be in order to lead “productive and meaningful lives.” What better goal could anyone have than that? Bravo! Contact Information: By mail: P.O. Box 1504, Birmingham, MI 48012. By Tel: 248-250-9304

Click to view the article in the magazine.

By: Lynn Miller