Winter is a great time to sit by the fire and read a captivating book. And wouldn’t it be great to help someone else do this too? This week’s Friday Focus features Forever Free Books, an organization dedicated to providing literacy programs and books to underprivileged children in the community. We spoke to Tanya Barnett, founder of Forever Free Books and learned how inspiring it truly is bringing joy to a child through a simple book.
Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)
A: Forever Free Books, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was founded in 2014 with the sole purpose of providing books to all children but especially to those in low-income areas in the Tri-County area, Prince George’s County and Washington, DC.
Our mission is to increase the reading and comprehension skills of disadvantaged children by conducting literacy events and distributing free books in their communities. Our vision is to provide a bookmobile in addition to promoting reading programs that highlight the benefits of reading and literacy in partnership with libraries and other community organizations. Through partnerships with these groups, as well as with parents, churches and schools, we hope to decrease the achievement gap between high-income and low-income families.
Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?
A: Our favorite moment was when we were able to send 150 books to an all-girls orphanage in India. The picture we received of them holding their books, brought tears to our eyes. It was the first time any of those girls ever owned a book.
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
A: Our biggest challenge is finding committed volunteers and board members who get our mission. We are a hands-on organization that is extremely small. We need board members who are actively engaged in fulfilling the mission. This takes fundraising to cover the cost of books, storage of the books, insurance for the books as well as the cost to host literacy events. We are hopeful that in 2016, we will onboard highly energetic people who love literacy and love children. Retirees are WELCOMED!
Q: Are there any upcoming events?
A: We are partnered with The Better Family for the Tots to Teens Expo in April at the Washington Convention Center. We will be hosting a reading lounge, where we will be conducting story time and giving away free books to over 12,000 families. We also partnered with TLL Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. in our Books, Boys, N’Cuts barbershop literacy program. In the spring, we will be visiting local barbershops in the Tri-County area to read stories, provide snacks and of course, FREE books to all the boys there.
Q: How can people get involved with your organization?
A: We desperately need help with fundraising and securing venues for our FREE reading events. People can visit our website ForeverFreeBooks.com to see us in action or they can email me at Tanya@foreverfreebooks.org.