Posted May 7, 2007 by Suzanne Schmidt
Updated May 7, 2007 at 01:09 PM
VOLUNTEERS TO FORM ADVISORY BOARD
By SUZANNE M. SCHMIDT
During preparations for the Temple Terrace Reads festival, Edward Schroering happened to stumble across an organization called First Book. Through First Book, he ordered 1,400 books to give away to children attending the festival.
“It was my job to find door prizes for the festival,” Schroering said. “Since it was a festival to promote literacy, I figured what better way then to give out books. Through a Google search I found First Book. The more I learned about the organization, the more I wanted to start it here.”
First Book is a national nonprofit organization with a mission to give children in low-income families the opportunity to read and own their own new books. In order for Schroering to start a First Book organization in Temple Terrace, he needs volunteers.
“I have to form an advisory board to go around the community with the purpose of getting books into the hands of low-income children,” Schroering said. “If we form the board, we will get an annual allocation of books based on how many low-income children are in the Temple Terrace area.”
He believes Temple Terrace is the perfect area for this program because many of the schools in the area are Title 1 schools.
“My idea was to promote literacy programs in the elementary, middle and high schools,” Schroering said. “It seems like First Book would be able to help that. I will take anybody who wants to volunteer from all sectors, including educators, public officials, service groups, retirees and more.”
The necessity of the advisory board, he said, is for fundraising purposes and to identify and award book grants to literacy programs serving children of low-income families.
“If we form the board, we would need to raise money locally,” Schroering said. “We would need to go out into the schools and find what programs we could specifically target and then apply for grants and get sets of books for those programs. The idea would be to select the most effective programs and designate them as First Book recipients.”
Typically, an advisory board of this sort is allocated between 1,000 and 5,000 books a year to give to children as needed.
“I could imagine us starting a program where we would go in and read to the children once a month or so,” Schroering said. “We could give the children books to take home. I am wide open to the possibilities. We could come up with new programs and help out existing programs.”
Board members, he said, should expect to spend about four to six hours per month volunteering. So far, the advisory board consists only of Schroering as its chairman.
“I want people who have a commitment to raising money and getting into the schools in order to find effective programs,” Schroering said. “I hope I will find people who would like to be involved in the schools. There are all sorts of literacy programs out there and it shouldn’t be hard to find something.”
Gwen Mora, past chair of the school advisory board and current member, said she was impressed with the books Schroering received last year.
“It was wonderful,” Mora said. “What better prize to give away than a book, since the reason for the festival was to promote literacy.”
Mora said all children need to have books of their own.
“The public library serves a great purpose for students to check out books,” Mora said. “The problem is, many students live beyond the city limits and don’t have access. Every child should have their own library at home, and this is the type of thing that will do it.”
The Temple Terrace Reads festival was such a hit that the city’s school advisory board plans to have one again October in the same place.
“Everybody loved it and I thought this is the best thing I have seen this city do,” Mora said. “It was the first time I have seen all the schools in the area come together for a big project like this. It was great day for families.”