Guest blog by Emma Mucci, Student Coordinator for Rx for Reading Detroit
Rx for Reading has reached another memorable milestone! Since September 2014, we have distributed over 75,000 books to thousands of kids and families in our community. We couldn’t have done it without our incredible community partners, organizations that work every day to support families and empower children in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park.
Rx for Reading Free Library at the Detroit Public Library Parkman Branch.
We also could not have reached this goal without our many supporters and donors. As the number of families we serve has grown, so has our need for books and financial donations. During the spring and summer of 2017, over 20 different organizations and schools ran book drives for Rx for Reading. Book drives were held as close as the University of Detroit Mercy campus to as far away as Grand Junction, Colorado! Together these donors contributed over 10,000 books to help support literacy for all children.
Two of our youngest book drive organizers!
Some of the books that found new homes and families this summer.
This September, as kids across the country get back into the swing of the school year, the students at Dickinson West Elementary in Hamtramck, MI are the proud new owners of an Rx for Reading library, along with a collection of 300 books they can “Take, Read, Share.”
According to a recent study on “Book Deserts” published in Urban Education, researchers found only one book available for purchase for every 42 children in Hamtramck. This makes it one of the lowest-access communities for children’s books in Michigan. The Rx for Reading library will be a free resource for all of the children and families at Dickinson West, and teachers and community members will help keep it stocked with books that children can take home, read, and keep.
Ms. Bosnjakovsi, 5th grade teacher at Dickinson West, Stuart Tucker, Hamtramck resident and Adjunct faculty of English at University of Detroit Mercy, and Rx for Reading Director Mary-Catherine Harrison.
Ms. Suzana Bosnjakovski’s 5th graders will serve as official library stewards after being “deputized” by Rx for Reading Director Mary-Catherine Harrison at the library unveiling. Thank you to Ms. Bosnjakovski, Dickinson West Principal Corey Pitts, and the entire Dickinson West community for their support of literacy and reading in Hamtramck.
Next up: Dickinson East!
One of the guiding principles of Rx for Reading is that reading happens everywhere. We work to put books anywhere they can get in the hands and hearts of children in Detroit.
Our latest “home” for reading is the Shekinah Tabernacle Gospel Church at 16900 West Chicago.
Shekinah Tabernacle offers a broad range of programming for children in their congregation and the surrounding community.
Thank you to the Shekinah family and to Pastor Reggie Huff and his wife Linda Huff for inviting the latest Rx for Reading Library into their church community. Just look at these happy readers!!!
“The kids love ‘their’ library!” Linda Huff
Rx for Reading has expanded!
We are thrilled to announce the launch of Rx for Reading Ypsilanti and their first Rx for Reading free library at the Washtenaw WIC Clinic at 555 Towner, Ypsilanti, MI. Washtenaw WIC provides nutritional counseling and food for low-income pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and children up to five years of age as well as breastfeeding support and referrals for immunizations, prenatal care, and more.
Now, moms and children will also get to choose a book to take home every time they visit Washtenaw WIC.
Cathy Sanborn, WIC Dietician, and Gayathri Akella, WIC Coordinator with the new Rx for Reading Ypsilanti Library
Rx for Reading Ypsilanti is spearheaded by Kaitlin Browne, an English Literature graduate student at Eastern Michigan University. Kaitlin was inspired by the idea of taking her passion for literature outside of the college classroom and into a setting where literacy can be enjoyed and encouraged at a young age. As Kaitlin describes her own path to reading, “I was fortunate because, although my family didn’t have much money when I was growing up, my mother worked as a clerk at a bookstore. Having access to those books is a huge part of why I study literature today.”
Right after the Rx for Reading Ypsilanti WIC library opened, this little sweetheart and her mom chose a book to read and take home.
Thank you to Kaitlin and to the staff and families at Washtenaw WIC!
“This makes my heart smile. Reading is power!” Erica McLeod, Washtenaw WIC Breastfeeding Peer Educator
Our latest Rx for Reading library is right on the campus of University of Detroit Mercy! UDM’s Counseling Clinic is a no-cost mental health clinic providing individual and group counseling to approximately 250 clients per year. The clinic provides counseling for children and adults for a variety of mental health concerns, including depression, substance use, anger management, anxiety and career counseling.
Nursing major Heather Galli and English and Education major Paige Olekszyk braved the winter weather to deliver the bookcase and books. They were able to fit 365 books onto the book shelves–one for every day of the year. Special thanks to Emilie Wetherington, Director of Disability Support Services at University of Detroit Mercy, for her donation of the bookcase.
Clinical Director Sheri Pickover, Ph.D., LPC spoke to the value of incorporating Rx for Reading into the clinic’s work: “The opportunity to access free reading material provides the children and adults who come to the Counseling Clinic with an improved waiting room experience and a way to obtain often expensive books. The Counseling Clinic is grateful for the ability to offer our clients these resources.”
This holiday season, there is a whole lot of reading going on across Detroit!
Rx for Reading at Waller Health Center
In 2015, Rx for Reading distributed 20,000 books to babies, toddlers, kids, and teens in our community. At our 18 Rx for Reading Clinic Libraries, children at health, dental, and WIC clinics choose a book to take home at every visit. At our 3 Head Start partners, preschoolers read with UDM college students and choose a new book to take home every two weeks. And this fall, we expanded our Little Free Library Initiative by installing 12 Rx for Reading Little Free Libraries in community organizations across Detroit.
Rx for Reading at Detroit Center for Family Advocacy
The Rx for Reading Little Free Library Initiative helps integrate literacy into the work of community organizations already serving children, teens, and families in our community. Each library is delivered to its new home along with a collection of 250 books, and everyone visiting the libraries is invited to choose a book to read and take home.
Rx for Reading at LA SED (Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development)
We could not be more proud to partner with these incredible organizations: St. Christine’s Soup Kitchen, LA SED (Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development), Capuchin Services Center, Cabrini Clinic, COTS Detroit, Detroit Center for Family Advocacy, Covenant House, Butzel Family Center, Don Bosco Hall Community Resource Center, Leland Baptist Church, and Spectrum Health’s Lincoln and Calumet Residential Treatment Facilities.
Rx for Reading at the Don Bosco Hall Community Resource Center
Rx for Reading Clinic Libraries and Little Free Libraries create community spaces that celebrate reading and allow thousands of children to choose books to read, love, and keep.
Rx for Reading at the Educational Wing of Leland Baptist Church
Rx for Reading at the Lincoln Residential Treatment Facility
Rx for Reading at Calumet Residential Treatment Facility.
We are so grateful to each and every one of the generous donors and volunteers who made our work possible this year. Hundreds of individuals gave their time, money, expertise, and books.
Rx for Reading at Bright Beginnings
Thank you for giving the gift of reading to Detroit’s next generation of readers and leaders.
UDM Architecture students with some of the libraries Rx for Reading will be distributing throughout Detroit.
What an incredible day! Over 30 volunteers came together to make our latest literacy initiative a reality–building and painting 12 Rx for Reading Little Free Libraries that Rx for Reading will place with community organizations all over the city, including COTS Shelter and LA Sed Youth Center. Rx for Reading will deliver each library with a collection of 250 books for kids and teens, helping community partners support reading and literacy for the families they serve.
John Mio of John Mio Woodworking not only volunteered his time to build the libraries, but also worked all day to help get them painted and ready for delivery.
John Mio and Mike Casey volunteered their time and expertise to build the libraries. 15 incredible volunteers from Kohl’s stores in West Bloomfield, Troy, and Westland, MI painted the libraries and sorted and packed over 1,250 children’s books to fill them. UDM School of Architecture students finished the roof designs, which were created by local artist Rebekah Modrak. UDM students helped at every stage of the process.
Since 2001, over 1,000,000 Kohl’s employees have volunteered their time to community organizations through the Kohl’s Cares Associates in Action program, and Kohl’s has supported their volunteers with over $97 million in grants to the nonprofits they have served.
University of Detroit Mercy painter Ron Heurtebise helped direct the Kohl’s volunteer crew.
Fr. Gilbert Sunghera, SJ, with students in his Architecture studio course as they work on final touches.
Rx for Reading Executive Director Mary-Catherine Harrison and Student Coordinator Sara Zawacki.
The end result, ready for delivery!
Thank you to everyone who gave their time, talent, energy, and generosity to help build this village. These little libraries will have an enormous impact in our community.
Casey Rocheteau was the first ever winner of the Detroit Write-a-House competition. Write a House works to bolster the literary arts community in Detroit by renovating homes in Detroit neighborhoods and giving them to writers, free of charge, forever.
Rocheteau, a poet and performing artist, contributes to Detroit’s vibrant literary scene in print and in performance. But there is another way she contributes to literacy and reading—with the Little Free Library planted in front of her home. Recently Rx for Reading gave Rocheteau over 400 children’s books to help keep her library filled with choices for all of the kids in her neighborhood.
Rocheteau’s Write-a-House is a reader’s paradise.
RX for Reading Detroit was thrilled to be part of an end-of-summer celebration of reading at New Center Park in Detroit.
Organized by one of our community partners, Detroit Little Libraries, the event included a public build of Little Free Libraries and a special recognition of Detroit as the fastest growing community of Little Free Libraries in the country. The award was presented to Aliyah Sabree, the Mayor’s Liason to City Council, by Todd Bol, founder of the international Little Free Library movement.
Aliyah Sabree of the Mayor’s Office, Todd Bol of Little Free Libraries, and Kim Kozlowski of Detroit Little Libraries.
Ms. Aliyah Sabree, the Mayor’s Liason to the City Council, accepts the award on behalf of the city.
RX for Reading invited two local preschools to be part of the story hour festivities, which featured Paul Murphy, head speech writer for GM. Paul read the wonderful book “Silly Sally Goes to the Zoo,” written by his late wife Sally Laux Murphy. The book follows Sally, a young girl in a wheelchair, as she meets all the animals–from A to Z–at a crazy, mixed up zoo. The kids loved Sally and her animal adventures.
Paul Murphy reads “Silly Sally Goes to the Zoo.”
RX for Reading Director Mary-Catherine Harrison chats with some of the kids.
All of the children who attended the event chose a new book to take home from RX for Reading, and each of the preschools received a collection of books for their classroom.
RX for Reading volunteer and UDM undergraduate Renesha Smoot Grafton helping kids pick out their books.
Another happy reader–with Doc McStuffins!
We are thrilled to announce the launch of our second RX for Reading Little Free Library, outside of St. Frances Cabrini Clinic, the oldest free clinic in the country.
Located at 1234 Porter Street in historic Corktown, Cabrini provides primary care, prescription assistance, and mental health care to uninsured patients, as well as offering community education classes like healthy cooking and yoga. The library’s location is perfect, surrounded by community garden beds, next door to the Murphy Playlot, and around the block from Most Holy Trinity School.
Executive Director Kelly Herron with Maya Faison
Clinical Nurse Manager (and Little Library Steward!) Alisa Smith and the library builders, Erik Krieger and Maya Faison.
Thank you to the Executive Director of Cabrini, Kelly Herron, MAPS, and Alisa Smith, DPN, Clinical Nurse Manager and University of Detroit Mercy alumna. Alisa will serve as official library steward. RX for Reading filled it to the brim with 100 books and delivered another 350 to help keep it replenished with great books for kids.
Extra special incredible thanks to Americorps VISTA volunteers Erik Krieger and Maya Faison, who built and “planted” the library for RX for Reading Detroit. They have created something new and lasting for this Detroit neighborhood!
Material support for the RX for Reading Little Free Library was provided by a Mission Micro Grant from the University of Detroit Mercy.
One of our goals at RX for Reading Detroit is to help grow a culture of reading.
That goal is perfectly aligned with the international Little Free Library movement, which aims to “plant” tiny libraries in public spaces across the globe–in parks, on streetcorners, by schools and bus stops.
Detroit Little Libraries is working to make our city the Little Free Library Capital of the World. Their ambitious goal: plant 313 of these bird houses for books in Detroit.
Our own RX for Reading Little Free Library on McNichols and Oak Street has already distributed over 500 children’s books to kids in our community.
We were thrilled to share the love with another Little Free Library at the Detroit Loves You Guest Home in the Virginia Park neighborhood. Proprietor Nathan Andren picked up 300 books from RX for Reading to help keep this fabulous Little Free Library on Hazelwood Street stocked with great picks for children and teens. Thanks, Nathan, for helping bring books to the heart of the city!
The newly stocked library at the Detroit Loves You Guest Home.
From Nathan Andren, proprietor of the Detroit Loves you Guest Home:
Detroit Loves You Guest Home, Where Your Visit Helps Uplift and Transform Detroit. Established in 2010, DLY was the first of over 400 Airbnbs that are now operating in Detroit. Our mission is to facilitate guests’ meaningful experiences with Detroit and Detroiters, while their stays benefit the Virginia Park neighborhood and city at large. We do this by setting aside 10% of gross revenue for neighborhood organizations like the Hazelwood Block Club, external property improvements such as our community garden, and neighborhood and citywide initiatives like Detroit Little Free Library Capital of the World.
The newest addition to the University of Detroit Mercy neighborhood is the RX for Reading Little Free Library in the Gesu Community Green! Little Free Libraries are community gathering spaces where neighbors can read, borrow, and share books with others in their community. The Gesu Community Green, a neighborhood park at McNichols and Oak Drive on the west side of Detroit, is the perfect spot for our first RX for Reading Little Free Library.
Special thanks to the University of Detroit Mercy Mission Micro Grant program for material support and Emilie and Terry Wetherington for building and installing the library. RX for Reading will keep the library stocked with children’s books for all kids in the community to enjoy.
We had a great time at the “Bookies and Cookies” library launch party (you can see video of the “official” unveiling on YouTube). The celebration was made possible by UDM undergraduate volunteers Samantha Schurg, Sydney Rozycki, Robiane Banks, and Kristin Hnatio and volunteers from the UDM School Psychology graduate program led by Dr. Erin Henze: Fatimah Muhammad, Heather Bishop, Sandybel Quintana, Nikia Duncan, and Alicia Burditt.
Thank you also to Gesu Volunteer Coordinator Anita Sevier, who helped make a home for the RX for Reading Little Free Library; to the UDM Titans who helped “plant” the library and celebrate its unveiling; to the kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders at Gesu School who welcomed the library to their neighborhood and promised to serve as “special library stewards”; and to all of the guests who helped make the library launch a huge success, including Margaret Auer, Dean of University Libraries at University of Detroit Mercy, Christa Laurin, Principal of Gesu School, and Fr. Nathan Wendt, Associate Pastor of Gesu Church.
Principal Laurin leads the kids over!
Come visit the RX for Reading Little Free Library, borrow a book, or bring some to share with neighbors!
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
The idea behind RX for Reading Detroit is simple. Literacy is a human right. Every child should be surrounded by books.
UDM student Alyssa Burgess reads with the kids at Emmanuel.
Over the 2014-2015 academic year, RX for Reading distributed 7,546 new and gently used books to kids and community partners in Detroit. We raised $6,500 to purchase new books in English and Spanish. We built 12 RX for Reading Libraries in low-income health and dental clinics, 4 classroom libraries for local Head Start programs, and our first RX for Reading Little Free Library in Gesu Community Green. We partnered with 6 Head Start and elementary classrooms for shared reading between college students and younger students, and over 50 UDM undergraduate and graduate students were involved in growing the organization—running book drives, sorting and cleaning books, setting up libraries, and reading with kids in our community.
We are grateful for the incredible work of our community partners, for the generosity of our donors, and most of all, for each and every child in our community.
Together, we are raising readers, one book at a time.
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