Announcing Impact Library Recipients, April 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.

Ana Roloff | Centro Mater | Miami, FL 

Centro Mater Child Care Center is located in the low-income area of Little Havana in Miami, Florida (33130). The center hosts two programs Daycare and Afterschool; together they serve 1200 children from low-income families on a yearly basis. These families will benefit directly from the Little Free Library as they have no means to supply a constant flow of new books (or stories) to their children. Access to books promotes literacy, and reading skills; both paramount for student’s success. These families visit the center daily, the Little Free Library will be accessible to parents during drop off and pick up and all day to all students at the center. Centro Mater is established and recognized in the community for its work and commitment to help low-income families and excellence in education. One of the options considered is to establish a donation program with different local high schools, with which we currently work in volunteer efforts, to secure a constant flow of books. In addition, we will reach out to other local organizations and companies to support literacy efforts.

Callie Phillips | Hard Elementary School | Chattanooga, TN 

Hardy Elementary is a Title I school in a low-income community. As Hardy faculty, we are striving to achieve “Greatness on Glass” by fostering a culture of kindness, curiosity, and hard work among our students. Currently, about a fourth of our students do not have physical access to our library as they are learning virtually due to COVID. My students are included in this group; this year, I am a virtual teacher to 24 amazing first graders, and I want to be sure that they (and all of our other virtual students) are still included in our learning community and that they have access to high quality books. Initially, I plan to involve my students in a class project to stock the library. Together, we will come up with a book wishlist and write a letter asking community members and friends to contribute books. Then, as part of a unit on letter writing, we will write thank you notes to each contributor. Moving forward, my fellow teachers and I will work to keep the library stocked. As a teacher, I am constantly adding new books to my classroom library (and giving away old books). If I was to be chosen for this program, I would put any high quality books being phased out of my classroom into this library. Other teachers at my school would commit to doing the same.

Jalan Burton | Health Home Pediatrics | Washington, DC 

My name is Jalan and I am a Pediatrician, wife, and mother of three. I am very active in our community. We live in Ward 7 in Washington, DC and I run a house-call pediatric practice. Our community is historically underserved. I have wanted a Little Free Library for several years, but cannot afford it as a working small business owner. We would pack it full of kids and adult books and would make sure to promote it in our community. We have a ton of fun kids books to share and have a thriving community of adults and children who would love to participate with the exchanges. We are very active in a lot of community groups and will make sure the library is always stocked.

Jennifer Scheulen | Chester Gap, VA 

Chester Gap is a little mountain town in Rappahannock County, a very rural community in the Blue Ridge Mountains that still doesn’t have a single stoplight or fast food restaurant. And the majority of the county does not have access to high speed internet. Out of roughly 7400 total residents of Rappahannock County, over 1,200 live in Chester Gap, including many of the county’s school-aged children. There is one main road in and out of Chester Gap and my proposed Little Free Library site is located right at the entrance/exit so it will be easily visible and accessible to all Chester Gap residents. The county is quite spread out–for instance, it takes me almost 25 minutes to drive to my kids’ school (and there are only two schools in the entire county). The county library is almost 20 minutes away (but it does also have a Little Free Library in the parking lot). I think a Little Free Library in this particular location would get a lot of use by providing a nearby rotating source of books. And I would be happy to maintain it and collect books to make sure that it is constantly filled.

Jennifer Walker | Mendenhall River Community School Library | Juneau, AK 

This Little Free Library would sit in front of our school for 24/7, 365 access to free books. Our school normally serves 500 students, 12% whom are Alaska Native, 9% are Hispanic, 6% are Asian/Pacific Islander, and 22% are multi-ethnic (numbers are pre-pandemic as our enrollment has dropped–currently we are serving 263 students, 32% of whom are multi-ethnic). Our school is situated in a beautiful location surrounded by woods and the local Mendenhall River for which the school is named. Many of the neighborhoods that our students inhabit have trails that lead to and through our school grounds which have wooded, paved trails and a playground. Students and their families from our immediately surrounding neighborhoods would frequent this Little Free Library all year long–the only one in walking distance from our school. As the school librarian I see all of the students at our school in my classes, and we can visit the LFL during class time and talk about how it works so that all students know they will have access to this resource all year. Because of our diverse population I will also make sure to include books from all the diverse groups in our community.

Karen Hickey | The Lida Knaus Food Pantry at Temple Lutheran Church | Pennsauken, NJ 

The Little Free Library will be placed outside of our client choice food pantry, located on the grounds of Temple Lutheran Church. The library will be available to our community neighbors, to the people who use our food pantry, to our pantry volunteers and to church members. The town of Pennsauken is the next door neighbor to the town of Camden, New Jersey which is one of the poorest communities in America. Each month the food pantry feeds approximately 150 families. Most of the families that come to the food pantry have children and/or grandchildren. We believe that literacy is our best tool to break the cycle of poverty. The Little Free Library will be maintained by the volunteers of the food pantry and supplied with books from donations from a local book club, congregational members and Booksmiles a local book giving charity. I am positive that the Little Free Library will be filled with beautiful books at all times.

Lori Holleran | Arizona Housing Inc. | Phoenix, AZ 

AHI’s mission is to assist individuals and families in attaining self-sufficiency through the provision of dignified housing and services. Since 1995, AHI has worked steadily toward its vision of ensuring everyone has an address, developing 616 units of permanent supportive housing combining affordable housing with case management and supportive services to address the needs of extremely low-income individuals and families. 85% of our tenants are living at 30% of area median income ($16,350 or less annually). We aim to provide our tenants with a home and a community of support. Through our unique community-building strategies, we help this diverse and vulnerable population establish independence and stability.  However, we recognize that certain critical resources remain scarce among our tenant population including the presence of books. Currently we serve many families, providing homes to children aged 4 and up. Our recognition of their growing literacy needs has led to our exploration of how to support an environment that directly supports reading. We believe introducing a Little Free Library would promote literacy in a manner that allows our residents and larger low-income community increased accessibility to books as well as providing an opportunity to promote community-based literacy events.

Mary Johnston | Friends of Kountze Public Library | Kountze, TX

Kountze is the county seat for a rural Title One school district. The Little Free Library will be located within the city limits of Kountze in a low-income neighborhood of color. Kountze Public Library is closed to the public due to Covid 19 and only offers curbside book pickup using the digital catalog. Patrons without internet access or transportation are unserved. Books will be selected for all ages and represent topics that have a culturally diverse focus. According to the Literacy Project Foundation, 61% of low-income families have no children’s books in their homes. This Free Little Library book box will enhance literacy by targeting these unserved populations. The Friends of Kountze Public Library, a local 501c3 non-profit, will organize volunteers to monitor the Free Little Library weekly and restock as needed. Friends will conduct at least two annual fund raising projects and/or submission of grants for book purchases. A book list will be maintained of books acquired or donated for the collection. A report will be shared monthly at the Friends meeting. An annual survey will be shared with patrons to analyze use, its successes and recommendations for improvement. The project will be disseminated through the Friends and Library Facebook pages. Book sharing and use of the Little Free Library will be encouraged. Patrons will be invited to join the Friends in other literacy opportunities organized in the community through the Friends.

Brenda Dunn | Lions Club Community & Resource Center | Las Cruces, NM 

We have recently transformed the Lions Club facility into a health services and resource center for the community. We are offering vision screening, eye exams, hearing screening, low cost hearing aid program, emergency food pantry, we are planning a community garden, reading proficiency improvement lab, free eyeglasses, loaner durable medical equipment closet and diabetes nutrition and education services. As you can see we have a variety of community members that will be visiting our facility and a Little Free Library is next on our list of things we can offer the community members. We will strive to always have children and adult books available in the library due to the diverse population we will have coming to the facility for free services. As well as we will have bilingual books available.

Sandra Buteau | Cypress Cove Elementary School | Sulphur, LA 

The students who attend Cypress Cove Elementary have not only dealt with Covid this school year, but also two major hurricanes this past October. Many of our families lost everything and are still, months later, living in tents or trailers on their land while waiting for their homes to be rebuilt. These children need and deserve books. Having a Little Free Library at our school where students and parents can have access to free books would be an incredible blessing. One step towards something that feels normal. The Little Free Library would also be accessible to the surrounding neighborhoods. Many of these are low income families that may not have any other way to receive books. While there is a public library about 5 miles away, many of these families do not have a working car. We would be thrilled to offer the chance to provide books not only to our students and families, but also to our neighbors. First I will reach out to our Partners in Education to ask for donations of books or funds to purchase books. Scholastic offers teacher discounts and I can sometimes find books as low as $1. I will also reach out to the community businesses and churches to request donations. Barnes and Noble has a grant program I will apply for, and also Farmers Insurance has a grant program for Educators. I could also, with my Principal’s permission, have a book drive at our school for those that can donate. There are many options to ensure that our collection stays current and the library remains full.

Sherry Horton | Alpha Mu Chapter-Alpha Delta Kappa | Lancaster, CA  

This is an underserved, low-income, community of color. There are many children living in this neighborhood. While there is a school very close by, it has been closed. The public library is less than 2 miles away, but I wouldn’t expect anyone to walk there. This is a desert and the climate doesn’t allow for it much. But also because people drive very dangerously around here. Right now, the library only allows for sidewalk pick-up. But, because it is a low-income neighborhood and transportation can be an issue, many of the people have stopped using the public library because they have fees against their accounts. Multi-generational households are the norm, and so the library has the potential to impact many different generations.

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