Friday, May 13, 2016

Book Club for Adults with Disabilities

I started volunteering at SRVS in 2011, helping with a weekly art class. Though I’m not a great artist, I loved my time spent getting to know the adults with disabilities who enjoyed painting. In 2013, while still helping with the weekly art class, I started a one-on-one writing workshop. Individuals could write and illustrate their own story, and I helped them only as much as they needed. Later in 2013, I was hired to be the volunteer and activities coordinator at SRVS. I loved sharing my passion for the organization with other volunteers, and created special programs and brought in performers as the activities coordinator.

Even though I don’t work for SRVS anymore, I am still involved with the organization. I have been hosting a monthly library program for two classes at Randolph, a local library branch. We read two picture books and do a related craft. As I approached the date I would graduate with my Master of Library Science, I knew I wanted to do more to provide library services for people with disabilities. I have extensive volunteer and work history in the field, and my two years of study focused exclusively on this population.

The next logical step for me is to start a book club for adults with disabilities. Independent readers are welcome, but it’s not a necessary skill - everyone is welcome! We’ll be reading books aloud, chapter by chapter, every week. The meetings will initially be held at the Central library in Memphis, because that’s where I will be doing a summer internship. Hopefully they library will pick up this program (and hire me!), and it will expand…

For the time being, I am raising money to:

  1. Attend the July 15th training session of Next Chapter Book Club (NCBC). This organization is doing exactly what I wanted to do, and on a larger scale - there are over 300 NCBC book clubs in 31 states, 4 Canadian provinces, and 3 European countries! They have been in action since 2002, and I am eager to learn their best practices for leading a book club. The training costs include the first set of books, and I will be able to train other book club leaders in the future.
  2. Buy books and supplies for the club. I will always promote library use, but sometimes it’s nice to own a copy of a book. Since adults with disabilities are on fixed incomes, I don’t want to ask them to buy books - I’d like to have money to buy bulk sets and distribute them at no cost to club participants.
  3. Keep the club going! I think that the training from and affiliation with NCBC will give this book club the energy to continue on. Periodic fundraising may be implemented to keep the members in books, and for whatever other supplies we may find we need, but based on the initial interest I have already gotten about the club, I am optimistic about its sustainability.

Thank you for reading my story, and thank you for any support you can provide! It is appreciated.

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