Some Favorite Sites
Government/ Community Links
Book Bank Gets $45K IKEA-Aided Makeover
by Kendra Baker | Oct 7, 2013 10:33 am
Posted to: Dixwell
After undergoing two months of renovation, New Haven Reads unveiled its remodeled book bank on 45 Bristol St. on Sunday—with matching bookshelves, and lots of light.
New Haven Reads started out as a book-giveaway storefront 12 years ago. It has grown into a thriving literacy center that circulates 100,000 books a year and provides tutoring, education programs, SAT prep classes and a summer literacy camp.
“Most of [the renovation] was finished by the time we started tutoring, which was the second week of September, but we still had some odds and ends to finish up,” said Tanya Smith, education director and parent liaison of New Haven Reads.
“The carpeting is new, everything’s been repainted, the bookcases are new,” said Smith, who has worked with New Haven Reads since 2008. “Seeing everything unfold was the best part about the renovation, especially for all of us who have been working here and know what it looked like before.”
The book bank’s funding comes from grants and donations. The center’s furniture prior to the renovation was all donated.
“Whatever piece of furniture came through the door, we kept. We had every combination of desk and chair you could possibly imagine—nothing matched and half of it was broken,” said Smith. “When IKEA came in and said they would like to donate furniture, the staff literally started crying.”
IKEA donated around $10,000 of furniture—including 27 student desks and counter-tops, four staff desks, 39 bookcases, six rolling file cabinets, 56 chairs, desk lamps and frames—to the $45,000 board-approved renovation project. Contractors and tradespeople donated $15,000 of services. That helped keep the cost down; the organization expects to have spent under $30,000 when all bills are in.
The book bank’s walls have been painted with the colors of the organization’s orange and blue logo, giving the space a clean, refreshing look. The organization’s mission statement—“Share the joy and power of reading”—has been painted in a decorative font on the wall for people to see right when they walk in. The building, which Yale donated to New Haven Reads in 2005, had one bathroom for everyone to share prior to the renovation. Now it has two. That mattered to the staff in particular.
Before the renovation, the back room—where many of the books are stored—was referred to as “the dungeon” because of its dimness.
“There was a window, but there was hardly any light back there—it was very gloomy,” said Smith, who loves the lighting of the back room now that an additional window was installed during the renovation.
New bookcases were another big improvement for the backroom. Like all the other furniture that used to be in the building, the donated bookshelves had mismatched. Now—thanks to IKEA—the book bank has all uniform bookcases.
Lisa Gray, president of the Board of Directors and principal of Gray-Organschi Architecture, helped design the backroom.
“When you have a space that’s so packed with junk—we weren’t sure how we could make it work better, but Lisa and her company drew it out for us by looking at the IKEA furniture and figuring out how it was going to fit,” said Smith. “They also constructed the dividers, which gave the room some more color and created individual spacing for the kids.”
While New Haven Reads deserved a renovation, it could really use “tutors and money,” Smith said.
“We tutor over 500 children but we have over 200 on the waiting list, so we can always use more volunteers,” Smith explained.
New Haven Reads, founded by the late Christine Alexander, has a longstanding need for volunteers like scientist, life coach and comedian Alan Winick, who spent an afternoon leading New Haven Reads students in hands-on science projects.
Keri Humphries, outreach coordinator for New Haven Reads, recruits volunteers at local businesses, where she conducts presentations to each people about the organization.
“If the business is very close, they can come over after work for an hour and volunteer some time,” said Humphries. “We also work with Yale, UNH, Southern, Quinnipiac—so people have been volunteering from those universities.”
Humphries said volunteers at New Haven Reads range in age from 16 to 85 and come from many nearby towns.
“We see volunteers who are students, retired teachers—we’ve even had retired homicide police detectives,” said Humphries. “Just anyone who wants to give an hour a week.”
For people who aren’t comfortable with tutoring but still want to help out, the book bank welcomes volunteers to sort the donated books.
“When people donate books to us, we organize them loosely—we don’t do alphabetization or anything because it would be crazy with the small staff we have,” explained Smith. “It’s amazing how many books people donate to us. One gentleman came last week with a pickup truck—he called us originally and said he had 500 books, but when he came it was way more than 500 books.”
All books at the book bank are free. Children are encouraged to take at least one book, and can take up to five, every time they visit. The book bank houses a mix of old and new books.
“Most of the books here are in good condition. We don’t put one in bad condition on the shelves,” explained Smith, adding that three times a year, New Haven Reads tries to make sure every child gets a brand new book to take home. “Covidien helps us with that because they actually have a book sale at their workplace for their employees and they earn points from Scholastic, but they donate those points to us so we get to go to the Scholastic warehouse and get brand new books for the kids.”
Although books are an important facet of the organization, the people are what keep the organization alive.
“It takes a village,” said Smith. “It takes the parents who are involved; it takes the volunteers who are involved, the staff, and the kids.”
Tags: New Haven Reads, IKEA
Post a Comment
There were no comments