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Edgewood, NM—Phil Houtz, RPMS Support and Engineering IHS/HQ Contractor at RESPEC, has been awarded RESPEC’s STEM Volunteer of the season. Phil is an active member of the Masonic Lodge in Edgewood, New Mexico, where he has contributed time and money to support the Lodge’s charitable work since 2005. Phil and his Lodge provide a truly profound service to the community: helping children overcome dyslexia by rebuilding brain synapses to compensate for the neurological learning disability. The results are nothing less than astonishing.

The formal Rite Care program is called Take Flight: A Comprehensive Intervention for Students with Dyslexia. Take Flight is based on the pioneering research of Dr. Samuel T. Orton, neuropsychiatrist, and the educational and psychological insights of Anna Gillingham. This course of study addresses dyslexia, a language-based disorder that affects approximately 10 percent of children.

Thanks to the Edgewood Lodge, Take Flight is an intensive, 2‑year program that has a phenomenal impact on dyslexic children and their families by helping failing, non-reading students become excellent readers who make the honor roll, at no cost to the students or their families. The Lodge pays a Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT) approximately $35,000 per year and provides a Dyslexia Center, a custom-built set of rooms inside the Lodge for the program.

To further encourage young students to read, Phil and the Edgewood Lodge donate new bicycles and tablets to elementary schools and middle schools.

RESPEC is very proud of Phil and his long-term efforts to improve the education of dyslexic youth in New Mexico. Phil says that the students’ “joy and happiness” in transforming from failing to honor roll students “is hard to describe,” and he gets choked up when talking to students about the importance of reading. “Whatever I do for another,” he says, “I do for myself.”

You can learn more about the Take Flight program in New Mexico at their website: https://scottishritehospital.org/research-and-education/education/dyslexia-educator-center