For the love of reading; Large donation of books gifted by First United Methodist Church, Rotary Club

Published 9:03 am Friday, February 22, 2019

With February being “I Love to Read Month,” this gift made by the Rotary Club of Austin and Austin First United Methodist Church seemed fitting.

From a partnership between the two organizations, a large collection of new children’s books that were valued at about $1,500 had been gifted to the Workforce Development, Inc. in Austin last Thursday. Clara Johnson, career planner at Workforce Development, Inc. had been thinking about getting children’s books into the hands of families who may not have access to them for a while and was recommended to reach out to the Rotary Club for assistance.

“It all happened pretty quickly,” Johnson said. “We reached out to the Rotary Club to get some books since its part of their mission for childhood literacy, and we work with families who are in low income and in poverty and are less likely to have books in the home. It’s a great way to create rapport with families and the kids.”

A variety of subjects were part of the cache of books to Workforce Development. Photo provided.

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Since Johnson has about 70 families on her caseload, and there are about three caseworkers at Workforce Development, Inc., Johnson stated that there are about 300 families who would be assisted, and possibly go home with free books.

Both the Rotary Club and the First United Methodist pitched in $750 for the books and the literature was delivered to the Workforce Development, Inc. and unpacked. Books that were donated ranged in ages from baby board books to new reader chapter books. The staff will be able to allow children to pick out a book and take home with them, while parents will also be welcomed to select books to bring home to other children who aren’t present with them during meetings.

Books are available in diverse languages, such as books being written in Spanish, as well as books that educate and celebrate a variety of different cultures and heritages.

Overall, the goal was to help build rapport and relationships with parents, as well as promote early childhood literacy. Research indicated that low income families were less likely to have books inside the houseand have lower rates of literacy.

“We’re really excited to be able to have these books,” Johnson said. “Kids are always comingand going by here and it gives them something to do while their parents are at appointments. Even if the kids aren’t here, I’m gonna have their parents take home books for their kids. It’s theirs to keep. We’re just grateful and really excited. We’re glad to have resources in the community to be able to do that.”

Around $1,500 worth of books were gifted to Workforce Development recently by Rotary Club of Austin and Austin First United Methodist Church. Photo provided.