Announcing Impact Library Program Recipients, November 2021

By Valarie Kingsland

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.

Martha Ayala | San Pablo, CA
Most of the families in my neighborhood are immigrants with language barriers that sometimes impede them from communicating at the library. This is a neighborhood that has primarily low-income families. One of the challenges for these families to take their children to the library is time. Many parents work two or three different jobs in order to meet their family’s needs. Also, many parents in this area have not finished high school and some only finished elementary. Having a library with free books accessible to the children in my neighborhood will make a difference because it is a 24-hour library where parents can get a book on their way to work or after work. There are no late fees or administrative processes and the children can keep the book if they like it. I came here without speaking English, and now I am in the process of obtaining my master’s degree. I was lucky that, although I lived in a poor neighborhood, I always had books around me. I want to help these kids have the opportunity to enjoy books like I did growing up, thrive despite living in a low-income community, and achieve higher education.

Ronnie Bennett | Henderson, NV
This Little Free Library will be installed in the mid-town section of Henderson, Nevada 89015 designated as a redevelopment/low-income area by the Henderson City Council. Presently there is only an elementary school (with a limited library), a park-like setting, and a Rec Center to serve the needs of over 1,000 adults, 1,000 senior adults, and hundreds of elementary school children. Due to redevelopment, their neighborhood library was relocated in 2016 leaving the nearest public library, in a strip mall setting, over two miles away accessed only by crossing a major eight-lane Parkway. My grandsons are undertaking the mission of returning the availability of both adult, teen, and children books to this area by making it the focal point of their Eagle Scout project. Kyle and Preston and the City of Henderson have made a commitment to install and maintain the Little Free Library lobbying the Henderson City Council to install additional sites.

Bruce Bogart | Saranac Lake Central School District | Saranac Lake, NY
I am the Dean of students at Saranac Lake Middle School. Our school serves approximately 400 students. About 45 percent of our students receive free lunch. The school would house the library and serve many underprivileged children who live nearby. I have had good success in the past through community donations. Being in the school I have good contacts for teachers and parents to recycle their books through the Little Free Library. I have been a proud steward for many years and would be proud to bring another Little Free Library to my current community.

Tricia Chaves | Massena, NY
Massena is a low-income village in “North Country” NY that’s suffered an economic and social decline after GM abandoned its factory here in 2008. My family was blessed to purchase a home this May in Massena’s “downtown” area on a high-traffic street that runs between Main and East Orvis Streets. A half-dozen unofficial free libraries were made by high school technology students in 2018 but without loving stewards invested in them, they’ve fallen into disrepair and have become places for outdated romantic novellas and religious pamphlets. As a family of modest means, Little Free Libraries were an integral part of our pre-pandemic days in Bend, OR when we had to bring our toddler with us while working for DoorDash to make ends meet: Although it was a drag delivering food from all the delicious restaurants around town (often with less-than-full-bellies), searching for Little Free Libraries became the highlight of our shifts and a way to keep our child entertained while promoting literacy and screen-free family engagement. There are dozens of children and seniors within walking distance who would benefit from access to — as would we from the opportunity to curate content for — our Little Free Library.

Ashley Coger | L.B.J.&C. Shiloh Head Start Center | Cookeville, TN
The community of Shiloh sits between the cities of Baxter, Gainesboro, and Dodson Branch in Putnam County, Tennessee. In this community is Shiloh Head Start Center, a Head Start operated by L.B.J.&C. Development Cooperation that provides education services to children ages 3 to 5 years of age. Our Head Start centers serve Low-income families in 12 of Upper Cumberland Counties, including the counties of Jackson and Putnam. In addition to our education services, we provide Family, Nutrition, and Mental Health Services. We also provide priority service to families experiencing homelessness and children in Foster Care. If a little free library were to be placed at the Shiloh Head Start Center it would serve the low-income families receiving services through the Head Start but also the communities of Baxter, Gainesboro, and Dodson Branch at large. As a Head Start program, one of our major goals is to support family literacy at home and a little free library would help us not only achieve this goal with our families but would extend the gift of family literacy to the community.

George Davies | CFH, INC. | Dumfries, VA
East End Mobile Home Park in Manassas VA is home to 59 households. CFH took ownership of this mobile home park residential community in 2018 when the residents were to be evicted because of a failing sewer system. We work closely with the residents to create an improved quality of life. The residents, most of whom are immigrants, generally earn between $30,000 to $50,000 for a family of four. They haven’t been the recipients of donated books. Any access to books would be through school. Since most of these families have at least two jobs, it would be difficult for them to visit the public library, which is located approximately 7 miles away and access is difficult as an I4 lane road is located at the entrance of the mobile home community. This Little Library would provide access to books for the children and adult residents and would also help to encourage the community to understand the importance of sharing. It would be a way for books to be distributed at any time of the day if we place this library outside the resource center. It will also encourage more community engagement.

Jennifer Gonzales-Granzin | Proyecto Juan Diego | Brownsville, TX
Proyecto Juan Diego serves families in the Cameron Park Colonia in Brownsville, Texas. The population we serve is almost entirely Latino and low-income. This population also experiences higher-than-average rates of illiteracy. Currently, we offer ESL classes, and we are exploring programming options to address Spanish illiteracy.

Janine Lovelace | Ohio Youth Development | Columbus, OH
The library will serve the Havenwood Townhomes Community located in the community garden. The 820 unit complex on Columbus, Ohio Westside. Many families in the community receive SNAP assistance. This is a multicultural community where residents are not within walking distance to the nearest library 7 miles away. The Little free library will be located in Havenwood International Community Garden. The garden is sponsored and maintained by volunteers and children of Ohio Youth Development. We are a non-profit organization. The Library will be maintained by Ohio Youth Development After School Reading Club for children in K-8th. This is a great way for youth community involvement.

Corie MannAllen | Pittsburgh Public School District | Pittsburgh, PA
Many of our students do not have books at home. I work in a high poverty/ high crime /drug-filled community. Income is used to provide basic needs for living. Unfortunately, books do not fall in that category. I grew up in a family that did not have money for “extras,” like books. I saved up lunch money for weeks to be able to purchase books. Reading is an escape, a stable bridge to a better, fuller life. Reading opens different worlds and different possibilities for children who may not have family support to make that journey. I want to make it a little easier for students to take the journey into a world of opportunities.

Michal Nelson | Hugh Embry Library | Dade City, FL
Lacoochee is a vibrant community but with few means. This proposed site is across from Lacoochee Elementary School where 97.4% of students are on free and reduced lunch assistance, significantly higher than the state average of 61.4%. For 2014, a family of two needed to make an annual income below $20,449 to be eligible and a family of four needed to make an annual income below $31,005 for free meals. The local high school has an average math proficiency score of 44% and an average reading proficiency score of 47%. Tommytown is also a vibrant community comprised of 65% Latino and 25% African-American families. Children in this proposed site are zoned to attend Rodney B. Cox Elementary School where 96.2% of students are on the free or reduced lunch plan. The proposed site for this Little Free Library is across the street from one of the Redlands Christian Migrant Association’s (RCMA) childcare centers whose mission is to provide for the needs of, well-being, and care of impoverished immigrant children. Despite both locations being less than 10 miles from Hugh Embry Public Library, the members of this community face economic and social barriers as many residents are without cars or transportation, to get to the library. What’s more, our public library is currently closed for remodeling with only an estimated date when it might possibly reopen, causing this neighborhood’s residents to travel far more than 10 miles to the closest library, which they cannot do. (Two Little Free Libraries were awarded!)

Mark Olivares | Libros and Friends | San Antonio, TX
The westside community has been long overdue for a library or any other facility. A Little Free Library will bring joy and safety to the neighborhood. We have kids, skaters, the elderly, and other residents who will benefit from this library to serve and maintain the library and respect the library. We want the neighborhood to know literacy is our number one priority in book desert locations of San Antonio, especially on the westside. The site of the anticipated library will be at my parents’ home, where they fully commit to the little library and bring awareness to the community. As a leader for Libros and Friends and a board member of the Los Jardines Neighborhood Association, we believe this will be the first of many libraries in the neighborhood.

Kelly Olson | Muskegon Family Care | Muskegon Heights, MI
We are a Federally Qualified Health Center that serves primarily the underserved community and Medicaid-eligible patients. We also house many other programs such as behavioral health, dental, lab, pharmacy, and Maternal Infant Health. Patients, families, and nearby residents will be able to access this library outside of our building. We are also on the bus route. Patients and children waiting for care will be able to have books to read and take with them. This community will definitely benefit from helping to improve reading levels and access to books.

Kelly Peercy | books4flood | Waverly, TN
I believe everyone has heard about the Humphreys County flood and how bad it was. This is a community that lost everything. The library and school were all flooded so they no longer have books, everything was a total loss. I have a book drive being held and have asked several of the parents to help me get donations. Well, it involved the school and library both so this little library would at least give the kids a place to get books to read and can bring books to help out. This area was devastated by the flooding. I’d like to give them at least one library, and I cannot see limiting it to just one. (Two Little Free Libraries were awarded!)

Sara Puchon | Tucson, AZ
My neighborhood has young families and many teenagers. Having a Free Little Library close will encourage them to have fun reading with free available books. I have lots of grandparents around my home with young children often visiting their grandmas and grandpas. I have Section 8 housing to the west of us. The families that live there are often out walking with their families. This Library will be a constant in their lives to enjoy free books. I have a young child who would love to share her books with other kiddos! We are so lucky to have an abundance of books in our home. I’d love to be able to share them with others. The closest Little Free Library is .9 miles from me (and the public library is .7 miles away) which can discourage those in my neighborhood without a car to get reading materials.

Jonathan Smith | Skokomish Wellness Center | Skokomish, WA
The Skokomish Indian Tribe is a federally recognized tribe in Washington state. The Skokomish Reservation is located on several square miles of rural Mason County, along the Skokomish River and Hood Canal. We hope to place two Little Free Libraries (one for youth, one for adults) outside our Wellness Center, which houses medical, dental, and behavioral health services. Our Tribal Center is next door; between the two facilities, there is a lot of daily community interaction. Our goals are to get more books into the hands and homes of community members and to support increased literacy rates among youth and adults. We do have a public library six miles away, however lack of transportation can be a barrier to access for some people.

Carissa Villa | SkyBuilders 4 ALL | Orlando, FL
The community being served is predominantly Hispanic immigrants. Children in this community are Spanish speakers and ESL students with a very low reading proficiency rate. Furthermore, transportation is a major issue that prevents families from going to local libraries. Many walk and this will be at the community center where families commonly visit.

Cesar Yoc | Mill Brook Garden | Bronx, NY
Mill Brook Garden is a tenant-led Garden constructed for the benefit of Mill Brook Houses Tenants. The Garden is a green space provided by the New York City Housing Authority. We have designed the garden to have a cultural or communal space and gardening space for tenants in Mill Brook Houses. We are planning educational programs and are looking to have a library for tenants that use the garden. We also have a solar panel and compost station. This will be used to teach tenants about the importance of composting and how to reduce the energy demand by showing how solar panels work.

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