In working on a proposal for the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge this summer, Katie Flowers, the director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL) and Lesley Adams, HWS chaplain, identified a book drive as a way the two offices could work together to have a positive impact on the children of Geneva. The Challenge aimed to encourage college service offices and religious offices to identify ways to collaborate with the community.
“We thought about things that we already do on campus and realized there was a great opportunity to supply books to local students through our America Reads program,” Flowers says. America Reads is a successful program at the Colleges where students are sent to local elementary schools to work with younger children to hone their reading skills.
Flowers and Adams decided to establish a book drive in an effort to generate books for CCESL’s “book nook,” a collection of books made available to America Reads tutors to use to practice reading with their students. They want to add books to the collection that contain themes and main characters that are reflective of the diversity in the Geneva community.
Working with William Smith Associate Dean Lisa Kaenzig and AIDS Care Rochester member Christina Miller, they examined the campus’s efforts toward LGBT inclusivity. Books that include topics of religion, gender and LGBT families were identified as those that would be relevant to children and families in the area.
“We have no agenda with this program, and are definitely not trying to push anything,” Flowers explains. “We are simply looking to introduce a balanced representation of diversity and heritage in the community.”
To make this possible, Miller will train the America Reads tutoring force in ways to practically anticipate the reactions from students.
“The kids will certainly be receptive to these new books,” America Reads coordinator Drew Monroe ’12 says. “But a good amount of responsibility will fall on the tutors and teachers to help the children make connections to understand the subject matter.”
Drew Monroe ’12 is featured in the photo above.