Announcing Impact Library Program Recipients, June 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.

Andrea Christie-Law | Houston, TX
Brunswick Meadows is a fairly new community. I purchased my home 13 years ago before being married and having children. The community makeup is minority working class Houston ISD tax paying families. However, there were no schools or grocery store built for this community. It was built on the outskirts of Houston’s notorious food deserts, book deserts and low-performing schools area of Sunnyside. Sunny is the southeast part of Houston. The high school for our neighborhood is Worthing High School. Many families of Brunswick meadows transfer their children across town to better performing schools or plan to move to areas with better zonings. An added note is that the Houston ISD district has 240 schools but only 57 of those schools have librarians. It is highly likely that children in the schools are not provided the opportunity to check out books. The little library will impact the children of Brunswick Meadows by providing books to students who aren’t getting an opportunity to receive books.

Elizabeth Corwin | Dowagiac, MI
I live in a lake area close to Dowagiac that has many families from the Chicago area visiting during the summer. There aren’t very many places for these children to get books in the area. We also have a large population of migrant children close by along with the children who live in the area year round. Having a library on our main road would help children in the area to be able to find books to read that will entertain them and bring enjoyment.

Greg Fornalczyk | Lake Erie Candy Company | Erie, PA
The location is within a popular shopping plaza (Village West) in a low-income area with a Title 1 elementary school (Tracy Elementary). The plaza is frequented by music students receiving lessons from Accurate Performance within the plaza. Often, siblings and parents wait in cars for each other to finish lessons and are looking for things to do while waiting. Our store, Lake Erie Candy Company, is situated next to a common area (directly across from the music lessons) with tables and seating for 20 people. The environment is very clean, quiet and welcoming for all visitors. There are also almost 25 other businesses in the plaza with a restaurant nearby within the plaza. We have approval from the plaza to move forward with a Little Free Library and the community is excited about the prospect of having this available. There isn’t currently another Little Free Library near this area. We would also be able to easily hold required events in this location due to the proximity to open space and seating. Please consider our location, we will be very active and a great resource for children and parents waiting for lessons!

Morgan George | Wiliam R Cappel Elementary | Moscow Mills, MO
Being in a Title I school and in lower socio-economic location, it is very hard for students to access books outside of school. There is not always reliable transport to travel to the closest library and that makes it hard for students to practice the skills that they are learning in school while they are at home. Learning and honing skills in school is just as important as out of school and during weekends and extended breaks, our students are not able to do that. Our elementary teachers and librarians do a wonderful job fostering a love of reading in school but it is very hard to translate that at home since the books must stay at school or be returned. Giving these students an opportunity to have books to call their own with the ease of access being at a place where they go daily will bring the community together and allow our students to become the best versions of themselves.

Melody Healan | Loganville, GA
I live in a Title I school cluster in the largest school district in the country, Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS). The majority of students in our two mile radius speak ESOL. We have met many families in our community through our chicken rescue and subsequent egg donations at our backyard farm. The neighborhood sidewalks welcome children of all ages into our cul-de-sac. As a former educator and now graduate psychology student, I have plenty of diverse books to stock the LFL (from beginning readers through chapter books) so the families in our community will feel included. I see the LFL as an opportunity to support the families in our community by sharing other resources as well. I have attempted in the past to offer free books (on the sidewalk) with no takers. I feel the LFL will give credibility to the location and help foster future friendships for children and their families in the neighborhood. As a young mother, I often took my children to LFL because I could not afford new books and it was always a joy. Now I would like to give back as a steward to the children and families in our community through a LFL.

Christine Hodges | Florence School District Five | Johnsonville, SC
Our community is a small, rural one. We are a tight-knit close community but also one of low-income and low literacy. We would love to have a library on school grounds to foster reading and a sense of family.

Andrea Jacobs-Rofail | Waccamaw Siouan Tribe | Longs, SC
The Waccamaw Siouan Tribe in Bolton, NC has a large number of Native American tribal enrollment of children. We are known as the People of the Falling Star, The Waccamaw Siouan Tribe. Federally recognized by North Carolina. We serve children of all ages impacted by the pandemic, natural disasters, and limited resources in Bolton, NC which is Bladen and Columbus County. We want to push the importance of literacy to children at an early age. Several families are low-income with little transportation. The location of our tribal grounds would give children access to the library daily or weekly. We have a daycare on site called The Waccamaw Siouan Daycare for ages birth to five. All community events are held at the tribal grounds throughout the year. Please consider helping us promote literacy in rural Native American communities and give early learners a strong start in toddlerhood. This library is part of the Little Free Library Native Library Initiative.

Monique Jones | The Historic St. James Missionary Baptist Church | Fayetteville, AR
The Little Free Library will serve the community of St. James Baptist Church as well as the children who attend our Head Start Program. Additionally, the library will serve the families of Asbell and Leverett Elementary Schools, diverse Title I public schools, primarily low income members. The area also serves international students and newly arrived refugees from Africa, Afghanistan, and Ukraine. The library will impact the community by providing direct access to a variety of high quality children’s books, young adult literature, and adult novels. The library will be located on the church’s property, directly near one of the main entrance doors. The library area includes an established grass area with three benches, a perfect location for members to sit and read. Additionally, the library is across the street from a public bus stop, and around the corner from our church’s food pantry, so it has the potential to be seen and used by a large number of members of our community. By housing the library at our location, we hope to serve as a catalyst to bring more Little Free Libraries to our community.

Kara Marziali | Warwick, RI
I moved to a working-class neighborhood in Warwick, RI nearly three years ago. Since then, I dreamed of erecting a two-story gable library as a catalyst for change in our community. Because the LFL would be adjacent to a school bus stop & public transportation and in close proximity to local businesses & playground, its impact would be significant. This project, if funded, will help the community as a whole by: Promoting literacy, Creating connections, Cultivating community, Offering resources, Giving information, Fueling imaginations, Sparking conversation between neighbors, Potentially generating economy to local businesses. Acting as a mini town square and book distribution center, children and adults can meet, connect and pick up a good book. Although the LFL will belong to all who use it, I would be honored to serve as the steward. I assure you that I will regularly care for the Library, ensure that it is in good repair, and keep it regularly stocked with high-quality books. I am looking to Little Free Library to help me share my love of reading and the fun of discovering a treasure with neighbors, children, friends, and strangers.

Kristin Mauro | Salem, OR
For me, a home without books isn’t a home. I have wanted to become a Little Free Library steward for years and finally have a home where I can make this dream come true. By becoming a steward, I will share my love of reading with my community while building relationships build on our mutual love of books. I look forward to hosting events. I live in a low-income urban area struggling with homelessness, mental illness, and a lack of adequate resources. As a result, there are few Little Free Libraries in my neighborhood. I would like to change that. I’d love to see it in every yard. By sharing my love of books, I hope to have a positive impact in transforming lives by igniting a passion for reading. I also want to be intentional in my stewardship by honoring the diversity of my community by promoting authors from traditionally marginalized communities. Professionally, I am an educator and know first hand the impact that the growing literacy cristis is having on our children and their futures. I want to do my part to end the literacy crisis before it’s too late.

Theresa Monfofrte-Caraballo | Grandma’s Love Inc | Brooklyn, NY
This will be housed in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn. This is a community with high poverty and many disadvantaged youth. I would love to support literacy in the community in which I live. I see so many kids walk by my home and I know this will get lots of use. There are five schools around my home.

Alyssa O’Rourke | Phillipsburg Housing Authority | Roseto, PA
The Phillipsburg community has 12.5% of the population below poverty level. This LFL will be located within the low-income housing projects of Phillipsburg Housing Authority, right next to the daycare. The people using this library are those without disposable funds for literature and who may not be able to get to the free public library. My hope is that this LFL will provide low-income families with free, local access to reading materials and improve the town’s reading proficiency level. Only an estimated 44% of homes have over 100 books in Phillipsburg, NJ. For the 2022 school year, there are 5 public schools serving 3,848 students in the Phillipsburg School District. This district’s average testing ranking is 3/10, which is in the bottom 50% of public schools in New Jersey. Public Schools in the Phillipsburg School District have an average reading proficiency score of 46%. Phillipsburg School District is ranked within the bottom 50% of all 649 school districts in New Jersey for the 2018-2019 school year. This LFL will foster a love of reading while strengthening the community both inside the Phillipsburg Housing Authority and surrounding area.

Bridget Riley | Malone, NY
Our community has a few little independent libraries but the need for children and youth is great. We have been filling the boxes as we can and within a few days, the children and youth books are gone. I would like to have our own library at our home, near one of our English gardens with a bench. We are located next to the Arsenal walking park, the public library, and walking distance to all the schools. We homeschool and I have a habit of buying books at sales to save them from being tossed. I am a local artist who is in process of children’s art classes/program. In past classes, while children are painting I have read to them relating to our project, such as a book about Jellyfish. It’s very rewarding and with a library we could do so much more. I am not in a position to purchase a library however. We need more outlets in the community for free children/youth books. Eventually, I would love to offer an adult library as well. The kids and I have seen and spoken to many homeless in the area and feel they would also enjoy the free libraries.

Elise Swanson | Mark Twain Badger Boosters | Angels Camp, CA
Our little library would be set up at our Elementary School outside the gates and available to students and community members at all times, even when the school is closed. We have a very low income school and would love to help keep books available to all students all the time!

Jamie Thomas | West Bend West High School | West Bend, WI
I am Student Support (Social Worker) for West Bend West. My room is a resource room used to connect students with outside agencies, has a clothing closet, a food pantry, school supplies, and other various resources. Someone recently asked would any of my students like books. I immediately thought how AMAZING it would be to have a Little Free Library at our school! The students I work with often have very low reading scores and reading books is vital for their success. A Little Free Library could be a game changer for them. It will also teach them the gift of giving and receiving.

Cynthia Torres | Joplin, MO
The North Heights community, located in Joplin, Missouri is a diverse population. There is an elementary school in the community where 58% of the student population is considered low-income. When looking at the state assessment data in regards to reading, students in this community fall below the state average. I strongly believe that access to free and diverse literature is a social justice tool. The intersectionality that exists between reading and social mobility are prevalent and can be addressed through small change like providing resources and access.

Jodi Wintrode | Shiloh Lutheran Preschool | York, PA
As a mission of the Shiloh Evangelical Lutheran Church, Shiloh Lutheran Preschool aims to provide a high-quality, child-centered program in a supportive, friendly, and safe environment. Shiloh Lutheran Preschool, with the support and devotion of our Church, our SLP community of family and friends, and our professional teaching staff intends to inspire the enjoyment of learning in each child through a progressive curriculum to ensure a solid foundation for their educational future. The children and families of our preschool will be using the Little Free Library. Over the course of the past 2 years, we have noticed a decline in reading readiness schoolwide. We are hoping to provide our families with books and resources to help facilitate better reading habits at home. We also anticipate the Free Little Library being a gathering spot before and after school. This would provide an opportunity for our preschool families to begin to bond and help build a better preschool and overall community.

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!

Keyan Brady | Leadership Academy at Como Elementary | Fort Worth, TX
The community of Como is like none other. Made up of just one square mile, many of our families have been here for generations. This community is filled with pride, love, and high expectations for their children. Having this Little Free Library on our campus would be a great addition and provide easy access for our students and their families to stop by and grab a book. As the literacy coach, one of my goals has been to build a literacy community and to hopefully encourage and support a love of reading that carries from school life to home life. In that, my vision would be to not only house books that would interest our students, but their parents, siblings, and other community members alike!

Shaun Cochran | Los Angeles, CA
I live in the middle of South Central Los Angeles and there are not many resources within walking distance or even close by. The library would be serving this community of wonderful people that don’t have access to things in more affluent communities such as Santa Monica. The children and adults in the community would greatly appreciate this resource. And in an area where there is high crime, this would help bring the community together and get to know one another. I work with children for a living and would love to host a story and craft day. I would hope that it would inspire others in my community to also participate in this wonderful program.

Laura Peters | Houston, TX
Westwood neighborhood has a median household income of $38,462 and over 50% of the population is made up of immigrants/newcomers (mostly non-citizens). There is only one Little Free Library in Westwood, and it is in the higher value home section. In order to get to it, families in my section would have to cross a very busy street. One of the public libraries in our area was damaged during Hurricane Harvey and will not reopen. In order to get to the other closest library, families would have to cross an interstate.

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