Announcing Impact Library Recipients, June 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.

Adrea Benedetti | ImpactHumanity | Adelphi, MD 

Blessings to all. I live in Prince George’s County, Maryland. I am the founder of ImpactHumanity. We provide mentorship, educational support, and life-skills training to single-parent youth. I recently held a book drive to give the books to the local children’s hospital but they couldn’t accept them due to COVID. Currently, I have over 750 books that I have been giving away. However, I’m still getting more donations from all over. Our communities truly need a little library. Not many people have access to the local library. Our children need books in their hands and not devices, the seniors in the nursing homes need reading material at a closer distance. ImpactHumanity will maintain the library as an organization. I live in the area so I can easily make sure the library has books and direct residents to the library. Together we will enrich humanity!!

Brett Ferguson | Early Learning Coalition of Flagler and Volusia | Bunnell, FL 

The Little Free Library will be located at the George Washington Carver Community Center and will serve the children of Bunnell, Florida. Bunnell is located within Flagler County and is a low-income community with median-family income being 68.2% lower than the median family income of Florida. The G.W. Carver Community Center is accessible year-round for all members of the community and is visited at least 20,000 times per year. The Bunnell Branch of the Flagler County Library is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 am-5 pm. The Little Free Library will increase access to books for all members of the community, helping to increase early literacy and lessen the gap between Bunnell’s Kindergarten Readiness scores and the state average (47% compared to 57%). In Bunnell, one out of every three and a half residents live in poverty, the availability of a little library will provide children and families with the ability to read new books that would otherwise be unavailable or difficult to obtain.

Brittney Campbell | Los Angeles, CA 

I live in a diverse residential neighborhood in South Los Angeles. More and more families are moving in and the kids of the neighborhood would benefit from having a literary destination on their daily walks and bike rides. I see the Little Free Library becoming a hub of excitement and discovery in the neighborhood. As a teacher myself, I know the importance of exposure to quality literature and diverse characters and stories. I am passionate about sharing books with my students and want to expand this to my neighbors as well. I enjoy finding books at garage sales and library bookstores. I also plan to hold a neighborhood book drive and encourage book swaps with the little library. I also already have a large collection of books ready to share because of my role as a teacher.

Brooke Knutzen | Work Unlimited | Corvallis, OR 

The mission of Work Unlimited is to provide quality residential, employment, and community living programs for people experiencing intellectual/developmental disabilities and challenging behavioral issues. Our service philosophy since 1985 is one of respect for human dignity, individual and constitutional rights, value, diversity, and a commitment to supporting self-determination and independence for all citizens. We are committed to promoting the preservation of each person’s right to a quality of life that includes opportunities available to all citizens regardless of disability, age, sexual preference, gender identity, religion, or national origin. The individuals who will both use and manage the little library, have been traditionally limited by society on how they can contribute and this is a way for them to connect and help others in their community as well as have access to reading materials. We will solicit donations of books or money to buy books – there are already a number of people already willing to donate.

Christine Young | Tri-Valley Opportunity Council | Le Center, MN 

Le Center is a rural community that serves many low-income families. It is also the county seat so we have many visitors to the city from other areas of the county. Putting books in the hands of kids that may not otherwise have one, would be a huge component of promoting reading. We are also located next to a park so it is perfect for a kiddo that wants to grab a book and read on a blanket at the park or for a caregiver to grab a book and read to their kiddos on a park bench. Our organization also serves migratory children that are low-income and highly mobile. Having a Little Library at our location will give families access to books they may not have access to otherwise.

Kiana Nesbitt | Lansdowne, PA 

I am committed to using this little library to showcase diverse books for the children and families in my community. My home is in Lansdowne, PA (est. 1893) a first-generation suburb of Philadelphia, PA. We have a population of approximately 10,500 residents and our borough borders three low-income areas. All the schools within our school district are Title 1 schools and the demographic of our schools are on average 95% non-white students. Additionally, amongst the student population, at least 95% of these students are eligible for the free lunch program. These numbers contrast with our borough demographic being split almost 50/50 amongst white and non-white residents. I am proud to be a part of a diverse community. Lansdowne is one of two Pennsylvania towns designated as a No Place for Hate Community by the Anti-Defamation League. I love that my town has been proactive in asserting our community’s commitment to inclusion by fostering many cultural events, mediation resources, and community involvement to name a few. I believe this little library will support these efforts, especially since our local library remains closed. This little library will provide many children access to free books to support the “No Hate” initiative.

Michelle Shaw | New Market, AL 

Walnut Grove, between Hazel Green and New Market, is a low-income community of around 800 that consists of a diverse demographic. It is home to a Title 1 elementary school with just over 200 pre-k through 6th grade students enrolled. Hazel Green and Buckhorn High Schools serve the area around five miles to the east or west. The nearest library open daily is around twenty miles away in Huntsville. A little library will serve children, families, retirees as well as others that cannot travel to a full service library in Huntsville or afford to purchase books on their own. The district county commissioner has committed to installing the little library if we are selected. We currently have a large and diverse collection of children and adult books to initially stock the little library. We further have established a commitment from local businesses for donations, monetarily and books, to maintain the stock for the first year and years to follow. Local businesses and churches have a history of providing the necessities for educational needs and furthering education.

Misty Abshire | Rising Star Elementary School | Rising Star, TX 

This is a low-income, economically disadvantaged, farming community. The Little Free Library will be used by all school-aged children Pre-K to 12th grades as well as our entire community. Open to enjoy our Little Free Library to all ages. Our library will impact our community as well as school-aged children in such a positive way. They will be able to enjoy books they might not be able to have access to at home and we can help bridge the learning gap. Our closest Library is 30 minutes away.  The little library will open literacy learning for all ages in our community to enjoy a book and share with everyone in our community. Fun way to learn and soak up reading all while sharing and making a positive impact with books through our Little Free Library.

Stacie Emert | Angel Heart Pajama Project | Tucson, AZ 

Tucson is a diverse community of around 982,000 people. Approximately 30 percent of all children aged 0 to 18 are living in poverty with great economic stress. In the last six months, 22,227 calls have been made to DCS for child abuse issues. Over 14,000 children are out of home care. 21% of these children have been out of home care for over 24 months. Angel Heart Pajama Project serves this community by providing new pajamas and books. We hope to let children know that someone cares for them and provides them a sense of comfort with their own pajamas, books, and a cuddle pillow. Many families visit TPD station and we hope to expand our partnership with TPD by housing a Little Free Library in front of the station. This will give the child a gift of literacy and reduce the stress of visiting an unknown police station. Angel Heart Pajama Project works with several agencies in Tucson, Arizona, and have various community donation programs that are one way to receive books. Fundraising and purchasing books is another way. The community outreach liaison of TPD will also support the maintenance of the LFL.

Trinette Robichaux-Cichock | Montezuma School to Farm Project | Cortez, CO 

The Little Free Library will be located in Cortez, Colorado which is a title I community. The majority of students come from the Ute Mountain Ute tribe or from the Navajo Nation. We want to use the library to help increase literacy in these populations where books tend to be lacking. There is a public library in town, but these students are bused in from the reservation and the students cannot get to the library. Staff will ensure that the library is checked on a daily basis. In addition, staff will collect data on the type of book that is most actively taken to ensure additions to the rotation follow community interest.

Vanessa Weikart | Akron, OH 

I live in a low-income neighborhood. There isn’t a library or little free library within quite a few miles from my home, and having a library in my neighborhood would be great for the local kids. I’m a kindergarten teacher who happens to love sharing and reading, and would be delighted to stock the library! I have so many books as a teacher that I have purchased over the years. I will also utilize discarded library books at my local library to stock when needed.

Veronica Smith | Little Rock’n Readers Book Club | Bryant, AR 

In conjunction with our nonprofit that encourages literacy in Saline and Pulaski counties, this library would serve several communities. The location of the library will allow children in Bryant, Alexander, and Shannon Hills who all frequent the area to have access to free books. We would like to host a kick-off, reading days, a book drive, and other activities centered around the library. This library would positively impact the children in this community by allowing them to have access to books that they would not normally be able to purchase. Our nonprofit has a plethora of book donations. We meet monthly and once our participants read the book, they have the option to turn them back in. Additionally, we have other organizations that have contacted us in order to sponsor books for the months and/or donate books to our organization. We would also like to implement an annual book drive which would give us many books to have on hand to make sure that the library is always stocked with a rotation of book selections.

Zachariah Lowe | R.E. Davis College Preparatory Academy | Sumter, SC 

This library will be placed at R.E. Davis, a public PreK through 8th grade school in rural Sumter County, SC. Our school zone is highly impoverished, with a school poverty rate in excess of 90%. While our school is only a 15-minute drive from the rather sizable city of Sumter, very few public facilities (such as libraries, grocery stores, and recreational areas) exist in our school’s locale. As such, our school has earned the nickname of the “Eastern Island.” This library will provide access to on-grade-level reading materials for all of our students (and their families) throughout the school year and will continue the supply of books to our school community throughout the summer. It is our hope that this library will accomplish three things: 1.) continue to build a connection between our school and community, 2.) encourage a love of reading, and 3.) continue to build our students’ stamina for reading. This library is just one of many efforts that our school is engaged in, and will be supplemented by targeted book giveaways, refurbished classroom libraries, and additional read-aloud and shared-reading text sets for use in the classroom.

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