2020 was a year that proved we are Stronger Together. Year four of our all-volunteer effort to make a difference in building literacy as a foundation for children in low-income communities brought its own share of unique challenges, chief among them the pandemic and the ensuing cancellation of Oktoberfest (our major fundraising event). But we adapted. We figured out new ways to raise funds. We developed new safety protocols for what we do and how we work with our partners under the “new normal”. And we made effective use of two months of downtime during the C-virus lockdown to initiate new collaborations with other local literacy organizations … with the same goals and aspirations … to serve the same “at risk” kids that we do.
We exited our downtime stronger than when we had entered it – adding St. Louis Black Authors of Children’s Literature, Ready Readers, Missouri Humanities and Alton Memorial Hospital (Member BJC Healthcare) to our existing partners to promote racial equity, our expanding Big Brothers Big Sisters program (to reach kids from preschool to age 12) and to broaden our service area to include the East Side in Illinois. With help from the people at Lents & Associates our story was well told. And with more help from Darrell Smith and Clickactive LLC we have a completely reimagined, vastly improved and much more functional www.booksfornewborns.com web site.
Before year’s end we had expanded libraries at six Ronald McDonald House facilities, added Birthright STL (8th), Birthright St. Charles (9th) and Mercy Clinic Pediatrics (#10) as major delivery partners and strengthened our Board by adding Julius B. Anthony, one of our area’s best known and most widely respected literacy advocates. We had nearly doubled the number of book bags we had delivered over our first four years from 6,517 at year end 2019 to 11,470. We had raised $97,178 from generous donors and collected more than 5,725 donated books valued at over $37,460 for our Big Brothers Big Sisters program. And we had made the operational improvements in safety, logistics, controls and governance to empower us to grow as rapidly as additional insourced funding will permit. We’re excited about what 2021 may bring.
We ARE Stronger Than Ever. We ARE Stronger Together.