There’s nothing like discovering a good book. While it may seem simple, for those struggling with the impact of trauma, stress and transition, a book can be the lifeline to a future of possibilities and hope. Fortunately, Dayton’s Project READ is on a mission to get books into the hands of people across our community, including vulnerable populations like those we serve.
For more than 30 years, Project READ has been providing literary services to children and adults across the Miami Valley through important services like their helpline and book distribution program.
Last fall, Project READ became an all-volunteer organization, a move that longtime volunteer Chip Houghton sees as an opportunity for the organization to focus their efforts on what they do best – collecting and distributing books to community organizations like YWCA Dayton, freeing up funds and resources for the organization to use for other critical needs.
“Part of the Project READ vision is to build literacy through collaboration,” said Houghton. “Literacy is the foundation for building skilled workers, strong families and healthy communities.”
Thanks to a newly-formed partnership with The Foodbank that expanded their capacity, Project READ began providing YWCA Dayton with books for the women and families in our shelter this year and will continue to deliver additional books, as needed. The first delivery included a variety of books for both adult and young readers, which will be shared across YWCA Dayton’s shelter sites in Montgomery and Preble counties.
“This is the start of a very exciting partnership for YWCA Dayton,” said Destinye Arnold, children’s program manager. “Empowerment is at the heart of our mission, and the books from Project READ will give our families tools to learn, grow and thrive for years to come.”
According to Houghton, one in five adults in the Miami Valley is functionally illiterate. With a presence in schools, hospitals, churches, and now the YW, Project READ is meeting a significant need that will help ensure freedom and dignity for so many across the Miami Valley.
Volunteers from Project READ work with partner organizations to identify the types of books that would make the most sense for those served by the organization. Books are then packed by genre and age range, and delivered directly to the organizations.
“As we thought about the books we might want, it was important to make trauma-informed choices, knowing that some subjects could be triggering to survivors,” Arnold said. “Project READ made the process easy and was so receptive to our needs.”
Since its founding in 2008, Project READ has donated more than 175,000 books, and like the YW, they kept going last year, despite the pandemic.
“2020 was a terrible year, and we still managed to get 16,000 books distributed,” Houghton said.
Looking to get involved? You can help the families we serve by donating items from our back-to-school wish list. At any given time, YWCA Dayton has 30+ children staying in our domestic violence shelters and housing program, and we need your help to ensure they start the school year strong!