While working at Book it Forward! Idaho I see first-hand the role of poverty in children and how it impacts so many facets of their lives. I hope to obtain the funding necessary for these programs to ensure affordable, high-quality preschool education and the expansion of full-day preschool, kindergarten programs, and our Community Schools.
Are you ready for it? Here is the last face in our Campaign Cabinet. This lady is truly remarkable. She's one of the powers behind Book It Forward! Idaho and is just one of the kindest hearts we know.
1. Tell us about being on the Campaign Cabinet. What motivated you to want to get involved?
The people at the United Way motivate me with their contagious, positive energy and determination as they work to identify and conquer the challenges of poverty in order to improve the health, education, and financial stability of the people in our community.
I’ve had the great fortune of being affiliated with the United Way of Treasure Valley because they have been hosting an annual book drive for us at Book it Forward! Idaho for the past five years. Because of their close relationships with businesses and organizations and willingness to let us ride their coattails, we receive thousands of books each year that we distribute to children who have little or no access to books. During our first book drive I witnessed the passion and compassion of Robynn Browne, Nora Carpenter and the entire staff at United Way to help others who are less fortunate and that’s what inspired me to get more involved. I was then warmly welcomed into Women United, and thoroughly enjoy every time we get together to make kits and do projects to help those in need. When Robynn told me about the Campaign Cabinet, I was 100% on board. The success of every single one of the amazing programs of the United Way relies on the dedication and charitable donations of supporters and I am motivated to make those connections and raise revenue to keep and expand programs vital to the people in our community.
2. There are so many ways to give back and be involved with charitable organizations. Why do you choose United Way?
I choose the United Way because they stand against poverty, helping those who are struggling and marginalized receive healthcare, education, and financial security they need in order to have a more fulfilling life. I’m especially impressed with the United Way’s collective impact approach where the greatest needs in our community are identified and then we work together with collaborative action to solve that problem. It’s a more focused approach where we unite and combine our strengths and efforts resulting in a more powerful outcome. In this way we can tackle a very specific community issue and make a greater difference. As a member of the Campaign Cabinet I feel confident and proud to explain this approach to community leaders so they can understand fully where their donation dollars are going and the positive impact it will have on the people in our community.
3. Tell us a little about your role with your organization and what you do!
I am one of the co-founders of Book it Forward! Idaho, an all-volunteer, non-profit here in Boise. We collect, clean, and distribute gently-used (and new) children’s books to those who have little or to access to books. We are a joint initiative of The Cabin Literary Center and Idaho Voices for Children. I train volunteers of all ages on how to thoroughly clean and repair books so each child receiving them will feel a sense of pride.
We reach out to students, schools, leadership groups, businesses, and organizations to hold book drives for us and we are so successful in great part due to our partnerships with United Way of Treasure Valley and Barnes & Noble. The United Way hosts an annual book drive for us that brings in thousands of books each year. This year we received 109,000 books! Barnes & Noble in Boise supports us by holding book fairs at their store and then donating a percentage of sales to us in addition to offering children’s books for purchase at the registers that are donated to us. Each year we receive thousands of dollars and thousands of brand-new kids’ books!
Since our inception 6 years ago, Book it Forward! Idaho has donated approximately 600,000 books to children, mostly in the Treasure Valley, but also in South Africa, Nicaragua, and Puerto Rico.
4. What you hope to achieve while being on the Cabinet?
While being on the Cabinet, I hope to not only raise awareness about the United Way’s programs and initiatives for people in our community but also raise the funds necessary to keep these programs thriving and expanding.
As a pharmacist I am especially interested in raising revenue for the United Way’s programs to improve the physical and mental health of people in our community. We need to further increase funding for mental health services and treatment for substance use for people of all ages. I fully support the Tobacco-21 law to raise the minimum sales age for tobacco and e-cigarettes to age 21, along with classes for tobacco cessation. In addition, we need to continue to invest in Medicaid Expansion and continue the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card that provides discounts on medications. I’m also passionate about raising funds for anti-bullying initiatives and suicide prevention programs.
5. What are you doing when you’re not working your tail off at your place of employment or for United Way?
When I’m not at Book it Forward! Idaho or at the United Way, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends cycling, skiing, traveling the world, trying new recipes, or curling up with a good book. I also look forward to my time each week with the first graders at Taft Elementary School where I help students improve their reading skills. I also feel fortunate to be on the Saint Alphonsus Foundation Board, serving on their Grants Committee.