Announcing Impact Library Program Recipients, May 2022

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 literacy engagement.

Shaakira Akbar | Red Oak Elementary | Stockbridge, GA
The little library will directly serve Red Oak Elementary, which is a community school in Henry County Georgia. The school is nestled in the Monarch Village neighborhood, and the Little Library will be accessible to the community as well as the school itself. The students at Red Oak Elementary are working to improve their reading achievement and as a part of this push the teachers and administration have made reading an integral part of all of their activities. There is also a push to enforce reading even when school is out. Having access to a little library will provide opportunities, in this walking community, for students to have access to books and to share their love for reading in and out of school.

Jennifer Boogaart | EAST at John Tyson Elementary School | Springdale, AR
This Little Free Library will primarily serve low-income children and families who do not speak English. It will be placed outside of a group home for mothers and children who are in transition. The home is located near three schools, two of which are Title 1 schools. There is heavy foot traffic in this area, and the library would provide books for numerous neighborhoods and apartment complexes. The children who live in this area do not own reading material, do not have vehicles to travel to the local library, and basically do not read anything during breaks from school. The library will empower my students who want to install and steward this library as well as enable them to provide access to free and culturally relevant literature for their peers. My students have learned that education/reading is the key to escaping poverty, and this library could provide that opportunity for the families who will use this resource.

Stephania Cervantes | Shenandoah Valley Migrant Education | Harrisonburg, VA
I am the program recruiter for the Shenandoah Valley Migrant Education Program and we work with the children of migrant workers in the agricultural field to make sure they reach challenging academic standards and contribute to their community. Our participants don’t always have access to reliable transportation so providing Little Free Libraries around their community could ensure they have the opportunity to reach literacy materials. We want, if possible to have the participants put together and decorate the libraries so they can be stakeholders in its stewardship.

Nelly Cruz | Iqaluit, NU, Canada
The community being served would primarily consist of families and adults. The community in Iqaluit is quite small and the proposed site for the little library would be in a great spot for the neighbourhood, it would be surrounded by families, some in low income housing; an elementary school is down the street, and student housing is across the street also, along with a CBC office building. The impact would be significant. It would be in a visible place, and people of all ages walk along that street. With the right conversation around it, it would help promote the value of literacy, and make going to the ‘library’ more fun. The impact of having the most northern little free library would hold a lot of value in the community and I really believe it could lead to having more little libraries in other more remote, more northern communities.

Michelle Dempsky | Legal Aid of Southeastern PA | Philadelphia, PA
This location is across the street from the Liguori Academy, a non-profit private high school designed to serve marginalized students in Philadelphia. The Fortis Program at Liguori Academy is an accelerated learning program for students who are over age, under-credited, and wish to complete their high school diploma. The property is also one block from a large public park with a sports area and a jungle gym. It’s in a residential area home to many families. My hope is that the library will be a resource for the students as well as the many families that frequent the park itself. It’s wedged between Fishtown and Kensington in Philadelphia, and sadly isn’t close to many public libraries (at least by foot traffic). By encouraging a love of books and reading, I’m hoping it will have a positive impact on my community. I’m also a huge bookworm myself, and I own the property with my wife, so we’d be willing to curate the books, donate some of our personal books to the library and keep it in good condition. As a former educator, it would be fulfilling.

Melina Easter | St. Paul School | Cana, VA
Our school serves two communities – Cana and Lambsburg. Between the two communities, we serve less than 5000 people. Only a little over 10% of the population has earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. About 30% of our population is under the age of 18 and 19% of those are considered below the poverty line. Working in the school system, we see many students are raised by grandparents or other diverse family situations. In our county, nearly 100 children are in foster care. About 20% of our families needed hotspots for internet during the COVID-19 shutdowns. Our county library is located 13 miles away up Fancy Gap Mountain. Mt. Airy, NC’s library is located ten miles away. As you can imagine, it is difficult for many of our families to find quick and easy access to information and books. That’s why this Little Free Library can help fill the gap for our young readers. St. Paul School is a central location that families can stop by to switch out books often.

Daniel Francken | Cheektowaga, NY
The community I live in is highly diverse in culture and religion and is fairly lower income with a high tax rate. I do not think the opportunities to own books are high and this is a Title 1 area as well. Many people walk dogs and their children down the street and a Little Free Library would benefit the growth in this community and allow for talking, sharing and the neighbors getting to know each other. I would like as many opportunities for the people in my area to spark that desire to read and grow. Also, since this is a very diverse neighborhood I see that the sharing of information and knowledge will help the next generation to be more accepting and grow in equality.

Debra Grady | Pottstown, PA
The Bucktown section of Pottstown is a mixed community of farmers, tradespeople and entrepreneurs. There are many senior citizens in the community who do not venture too far away. A convenient and accessible Little Free Library would be an enrichment to them. Happily, young families are beginning to rent and own homes and farmettes in the area. These families would also fund the Little Free Library to be a source of enrichment in their lives. The Little Library I am proposing would be located on my farm. People stop by the farm to buy eggs (honor system egg stand) and I believe a Little Free Library would add further joy to their day!

Bilwa Jadhav | Columbus, IN
We have many young kids residing in almost every other household in this neighborhood. We currently have only 1 city public library and would love to add this option to our area. I have served as a mentor and tutor for Book Buddies (reading program for grade 2 and 3) kids in schools for over 7 years and have the experience of running this initiative. I firmly believe that many kids would immensely benefit from this program.

Leslee Lay | SC Tucker Elementary | Danville, AR
We live in a small town and our elementary school has about 250 students in K-4. While the primary focus of this Little Free Library would be to serve the students of SC Tucker Elementary, their families and siblings could also benefit. Our school (and town) has a very high percentage of low socioeconomic families and a large percentage of students who speak English as a second language. Because so many of our families and students live in poverty, they don’t have the luxury of buying books. I would love to have a Little Free Library set up in front of the school so that teachers and staff can help add to it and keep it in good shape, and I know the students would be beyond excited and benefit so much from being able to have access to books they can take any time.

Delsie LeMaster | Highland Elementary | Waynesburg, KY
The community that this library would serve is a low income area. This is a great community but people struggle to make ends meet. This library would give both adults and children the opportunity the chance to get much needed literature in their hands and the hands of their children with ease. We would place the Little Free Library on the school’s campus in front of the school’s library for the community to easily access. Even though the public library is only nine miles away, they have to travel down a mountain to get there and this would make it easier for the community to have access to books. We could advertise the new installation of the Little Free Library in the local paper, Facebook, and have a ribbon cuttings ceremony to explain how this program works.

Becky Patterson | God’s Helping Hands through Ministry | Phoenix, AZ
Low income community housing where the majority of the residents are learning and speaking English. Schools’ academic test scores are below levels. Both parents and children will benefit from this program. Lack of transportation prohibits getting to local libraries and other community programs. These children are eager to learn and want to thrive in life. I’m very involved in the community and want to do what I can to help them achieve their goals. All children deserve a chance and this is why I’m requesting this library book program. I want it to be fun and rewarding for the children. I will challenge the children to read as many books as they can and offer fun reward prizes.

Lindsey Reynolds | Georgian Acres Neighborhood Association | Austin, TX
The Georgian Acres neighborhood is a historically under-served, low-income neighborhood in the North Central area of Austin, with multiple apartment complexes and recovery residences. We continually rate “F” in schools, employment, and crime. Many of our neighbors are ESL. We are one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Austin, but often forgotten. Our neighborhood association wants to bring our community together despite the proximity to busy highways and lack of sidewalks. This library will be placed in the Georgian Manor, a Section 8 federal housing project in the middle of the neighborhood. It is within walking distance to a popular bus stop for school children on an otherwise very busy street. Many school-age children reside in the Manor and within the Georgian Acres community. As Austin continues its exponential growth and the cost of living increases, it’s more important than ever to make books and knowledge accessible and free. Our nearest library, though just a couple of miles away, requires navigating car-heavy streets and busy intersections, and is very unsafe for young children. Though the pandemic put a damper on community activities for the past two years, our neighborhood association is newly launched and eager to connect.

Jenifer Rose | Harrison, TN
We live in a rural area where the access to books is limited – the closest library is 14 miles away and would require those in our area to pay an $85 annual membership fee. Our Library would offer access to books, with an emphasis on titles aimed at educating readers on social justice issues.

Sarah Solombrino | JOVEN | San Antonio, TX
We are in a low income and at risk community. Our organization is focused on serving the youth JOVEN means “youth” in Spanish), promoting literacy, positive character growth and positive connections. We are finally starting up an after school program again after COVID and now have a great opportunity to open our doors to our community and touch more lives. I would love to host read-aloud story events and free book events. The schools in the district have scored very low for quite a few years.

Tammy Theis-Satterlee | West Haven Child Development Center | West Haven, CT
This location is in a building that houses an early childhood center with a diverse population including an Early Head Start program and School Readiness program. This building also serves as the senior center. There are over 150 children in this program, who would benefit from this library. Families are here daily and are engaged in being supportive of the school and reading. Since we are an early childhood program, we are also able to promote reading activities within our program for children and families.

Alexis Walling | Fanny M. Hillers School – Hackensack Board of Education | Hackensack, NJ
Hillers is a Title 1 low economic income school with a bilingual population. We have prek – 4th grade (gen ed and special ed). We currently do not have a Little Free Library and I’d love to add one to our school. Our principal and vice-principal also would love to add one. It’s so important that families read together at home. I’m the speech therapist in the school. We use books for therapy all of the time. They connect to building skills like vocabulary, ask/answering questions, rhyming, sequencing and many other skills we work on in therapy. Additionally, we have a large Spanish speaking population. I would love to add Spanish and English books so that our families who are bilingual can read together with their children at home. I’ve been saving up my Scholastic points so that I can stock it with books for the students and families to enjoy together. This would be an amazing addition to our school to encourage literacy and family togetherness.

The following Impact Library Awards are sponsored by General Mills, Lucky Charms. Thank you to General Mills for supporting our Impact Library Program and making these granted libraries possible!

Angela Ellis | Cedar Hill, TX
Cedar Hill is a medium-sized city with a mix of both blue and white collar workers. It’s an extremely ethnically-diverse city. Most people make long commutes to get to work. Because of the long commutes, people normally don’t find the time to get their children to the library or to the 1 bookstore that we have. There are 3 schools less than a mile from my home, with one at the end of my block. This Little Free Library will serve adults and the students in those schools and the ones who walk past my home twice a day to get to and from school. Since most schools in my community have done away with school librarians, this leaves children with little access to books. This Little Free Library can serve as a way to get more books into children’s hands and homes. It will promote literacy, generosity, and community in the neighborhood. It is a close knit community and I believe that the library will benefit adults and children.

Milton Fernandez | MDCPS| Miami, FL
We are a title 1 school in a low income community with lots of transient Spanish speaking families coming and going. Our students will be using the Little Free Library along with their parents however, not only will our students be using them, but also many of the other children in our community who attend different schools. I will provide a selection of books with an emphasis on cultural diversity as well as books that take place in our nation’s history as well as our home state of Florida.

Mari Gutierrez | Baldwin Park, CA
Baldwin Park is a small community in Southern California located 20 miles east of Los Angeles. It is known for being the home of the first In N Out Burger drive thru. Baldwin Park is only about 6.5 square miles yet filled with over 70K people of mostly Hispanic/Latino ethnicity. Within the city, there is only one public library and zero Little Free Libraries. I want to do my part to help change that! When people, especially children, have greater and easier access to books they will tend to read more. Little free libraries serve that purpose beautifully. And when people read more, their lives change as reading actually relieves stress, alleviates depression, increases better sleep, encourages empathy, improves brain function and even extends lifespan among so many other benefits. I loved reading as a child and have passed that love of reading to my own children. How I would have loved a little free library near my home as a child… A little adorable house filled with fun adventures yet to be discovered! Such fun! An Idea whose time has come and is needed now more than ever! Thank you for the opportunity to serve my community.

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