About Us


Spell Ball

123 S. Main St.
Joplin, MO 64801


Welcome to Joplin NALA Read!


SPELL BALL 2014 is Tuesday, March 25th

My five-year-old granddaughter sits at the kitchen table with her handmade card. “How do you spell very?” she asks, then carefully writes the letters. “Much—how do you spell much?” is her next question. I look at the card she is making for her mother. I love you very much is written on the card. She already knows how to spell I love you.  But evidently that isn’t quite enough to tell her mother of her love. At five years old, Lilly is learning to spell simple words. Sometimes I exaggerate the sound to see if she can figure out the spelling on her own. But the English language doesn’t always lend itself to sounding out letters for correct spelling.

That’s what makes our annual Spell Ball so interesting. Words appear on our lists that are directly transliterated from the Greek, Latin, French, Tagalog, Arabic, and other languages. Only when the words come from Spanish is the spelling likely to be phonetic. As I explain to our students in defense of English spelling, we just plop a word into our language without making it our own. Thus we have hors d’oeuvres and amok and medical terms galore that do not follow regular rules for spelling in English. (The word phonetic is a case in point.) Oh, yes, your team gets a list of the words for Spell Ball to study ahead of time.

If you like to spell, you will find yourself challenged by the Spell Ball. Even if you don’t like to spell, you will enjoy the evening—you don’t have to do all the spelling. The team of three you are playing with can discuss the word together before spelling it. Your team can even buy “Ball Passes” ahead of time to use if the word is too hard, and you will be given an easier word. Or you can come to cheer your team on from the sidelines.

Since we deal with words every day in our literacy program, we have taken Spell Ball as our signature fundraiser. We are grateful to United Way for their support and to our donors for their generosity. Still, a gap remains between that income and our expenses which Spell Ball is designed to fill. Will you help us fill that gap by being a Spell Ball sponsor, organizing a team, or volunteering during the evening?

Students who come to our literacy program ask for help in improving their reading, math, or English as a Second Language. Their goals are as varied as their abilities. Some want to get a driver’s license and are content with that. Others are studying for their high school equivalency exam. Many need to improve their English in order to work. Some want to read to their children or grandchildren. Our goal is to meet their needs. Will you help us meet our need?

Mark your calendar for Spell Ball: Tuesday, March 25 at Joplin Junior-Senior High School, north edge of the Mall. Contact us for further information.

Marj Boudreaux, Executive Director 

Give a Hand Up
Help Someone Learn to Read

  • $25 allows a new student to complete orientation
  • $50 provides books for an adult literacy student to progress a level in reading
  • $100 will provide children's books for a family literacy program
  • $150 provides the resources to train ten volunteer tutors
  • $200 furnishes the ESL classroom with books and supplies

Please include check, cash or money order. Checks can be made payable to Joplin NALA Read, P.O. Box 447, Joplin, MO 64802. Donations of any amount toward this Annual Giving Campaign are greatly appreciated and are tax deductible.