Announcing Impact Library Recipients, March 2021

By Lexie Neeley

Congratulations to this month’s Impact Library recipients, and welcome to the Little Free Library family!

Little Free Library’s Impact Library Program provides no-cost Little Free Library book exchanges to underserved communities where they can make a meaningful impact on book access and reading motivation.

Misti Bressette | Lacey’s Springs School | Lacey’s Springs, AL 

We are a rural, Title I school in Morgan County, Alabama. Our school population is over 75% free and reduced lunch and consists of approximately 18% Hispanic and EL population. There is not a public library really close to this community and online resources and technology devices are sparse. We, as the school, and hub of the community would like to offer and host opportunities for students, siblings, parents, and other community members to borrow and exchange books in English and Spanish, while also hosting events for the community related to reading. Literacy is an area where we need growth and keeping books in the hands of these kids, while also encouraging many to continue to read in their native language is important. There is also a small grocery store next to us who does a lot of outreach and caters to the community here as well. This could be a very positive addendum to this community and give people access to more books. We strive to foster a love for reading and can continue it during the summer months when our school library is closed.

Lisette Caesar | PS 375 | New York, NY 

PS 375 is a school that is on a campus that houses over 1,00 children ages 2 to 14. All schools have programs during the week to help low level children develop academic skills needed to succeed. These children live below the poverty level in East Harlem, NY. Over 95% receive free or reduced lunch. Over 30% live in shelters.

Mayte Estrada | Pomona, CA 

My surrounding community is highly impacted by Hispanic, Latinos, African American, and low social-economic families. Since I was born, I have grown up in this community; the need for resources has always been limited. The majority of my community members come from a first-generation background, like myself. Our society lacks the opportunity for growth. Many of our current families need educational resources to expand their children’s education. Families today are being limited to bilingual, social skills, and interaction abilities due to the lack of local resources. As a current educator, I highly value education and wish to continue impacting my local community. Many local families are working parents, single parents, and emigrate parents, living check by check, having limited financials for resources such as books for their children. I can assure you that the children in my neighborhood will highly benefit from this opportunity. I believe providing children with resources, encouragement, and love will help expand their education. Our children are the future generation. As an educator, I desire to ensure that children in my community are well suited with all the resources possible to continue developing their education.

Mary Gies | Family Discovery Center and Safe Passage Center | Rockville, MD 

The proposed location houses two programs that help strengthen families, the Family Discovery Center and Safe Passage Center. A Little Free Library will contribute to each by promoting literacy and a love of books that can be shared between parents, children, and siblings. The surrounding neighborhood would also have direct access to the library. The FDC is a free, multi-generational literacy and child development education program for families with children up to age four. Prior to COVID-19, families visited FDC Mon-Thurs for 2.5 hours. Parents and children completed an activity together and then the parents engaged in adult education while children participated in developmentally appropriate literacy and early learning activities. FDC empowers parents to be teachers and role models for their children and create a lifelong love of learning. Access to an LFL will help fill the gap while this program and other public spaces, such as libraries, remain closed. The Safe Passage Center is a safe space for families involved with the courts. It provides free, supervised visitation and monitored exchanges in a structured, secure environment, where many of the common stressors of family exchanges are removed. It allows children to safely maintain relationships with both parents.

Candi Lalonde | Edgefield County First Steps | Edgefield, SC

The community in this area are low income, as evidenced by two low income housing complexes within a few hundred yards of the proposed location. There is also a community soccer field beside the location, as well as a .9 mile walking track that runs right by the site chosen. This will be an easily accessible location that will be in a concentrated low income population area. We anticipate children of all ages, as well as their parents and grandparents being able to access the little free library. Almost 31% of Edgefield residents were below the poverty level in 2019 and 47% of young children live in families below the poverty level. Additionally, 69% of kindergarteners are not considered ready for school, and accessibility to quality books are a large part of this reason. Edgefield County First Steps works with families with young children, but books for all ages will be placed in the Little Free Library.

Stephanie Light | Craven County Family Literacy | Vanceboro, NC 

Our Craven County Family Literacy program has 2 sites in the most rural areas of the northwestern parts of Craven County, North Carolina: Cove City and Vanceboro. The socio-economic levels are low, and the dropout rate of the area’s high school is high in contrast to the hub of our county, New Bern, North Carolina. The Neuse River cuts off this area from the small city of New Bern, where the manufacturing and local resources are for the entire county. Craven County Family Literacy’s community is a rural farming area: cotton, pigs and tobacco. In this northwestern part of Craven County, three Title I elementary schools, one Title I middle school and one Title I High School serve the children and families. Our families are tucked away in the nooks and crannies of this part of the county, and they are limited in their access to resources. A Little Free Library at both of our sites would provide the parents and children opportunities to bring books into their homes and support the literacy development of the entire family.

Sara Montoya | McAllen, TX

The Rio Grande Valley community tops the “Least Educated” and “America’s Poorest Cities” U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, among others. 89% of the community is Hispanic, and the majority is bilingual. My goal is to build a bilingual Little Free Library at a park closest to my home that would serve the general community. The only other registered LFL is at an elementary school for students to use. I am a librarian at McAllen Public Library, and I have seen a dramatic decline in the number of people coming into the library, due to Covid-19. My hope is that the LFL would be a safe, accessible option for residents of all ages to enjoy a book. I am also a mom to a two -year-old, and I hope that being part of the process of taking care of the LFL would be a good example of sharing and the importance and value of books.

Jessica Phillips | Chickahominy Indian Tribe – Eastern Division | Providence Forge, VA 

Chickahominy Indian Tribe- Eastern Division (CITED) is a federally recognized tribe located in rural New Kent, Virginia. Many of our citizens are low income, with no access to the internet or our local library. This would be a great opportunity to increase literacy for our citizens, as well as non-natives in the community.

Donna Stamper | Operation Care Family Resource Center – Olive Hill | Olive Hill, KY 

According to the Census, 28.2% of the population in Carter County lives in poverty and 21.1% have less than a high school diploma or equivalent. ( Additionally, 34% of children under the age of 18, in Carter County live in poverty. ( 38.7% of Olive Hill, KY residents had an income below the poverty level in 2017, which was 55.5% greater than the poverty level of 17.2% across the entire state of KY. ( In these homes, where basic needs are a struggle, books are a luxury. Providing free early literacy opportunities to families will raise awareness to the importance of reading to and introducing books to infants and toddlers. The free lunch percentage for OHES is at 70% of our enrollment. Children and adults will have access to the library. School enrollment for the city of Olive Hill and extended area is 1,854. This will help so many families who can’t afford to buy books but want their children to have access to books and be fluent readers which is the foundation for their future. If a child can read, they can accomplish anything. “A house without books is like a room without windows.” Heinrich Mann

Jarrett Vella | Military Magnet Academy National Honor Society | North Charleston, SC 

Thank you for this opportunity. We are a Title 1 school in North Charleston, SC. Our zip code is 29405. This zip code is one of the most impoverished in the United States. We lead the entire nation in home evictions. Think of 98’s. 98% of our parents do not have college degrees; 98 percent of our area is rental property; 98 % of our immediate area is in the top ten crime zones in the United States. We have been classified as a food desert by the USDA. I am a teacher in this area and I assure you that most homes are devoid of libraries. Our students will take ownership of our books without a doubt.

Bart Warshaw | Sgt Anthony Neighborhood Association | Jersey City, NJ 

Located in a park on route to a school, this library would be beneficial to neighbors who use the playground, basketball court, and community garden. Many in the community have requested a lending library and we hope it can be a useful facility for a wide age range of people.

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