Saturday, March 14, 2009

Book Wish Foundation

For people who patronize our Semi-Annual booksales, it is difficult to imagine that the volunteers have any time for life outside Reston Friends. But we do, and some of our volunteers are involved in very interesting endeavors in their "free" time. One of the most inspiring is what Lorraine K. and her son, Logan, are up to their ears in doing, Book Wish Foundation.

You've probably encountered Lorraine at the sale. She is our 'on the spot' person handling the Literature section. If you're looking for a particular book in that section, she is the one most likely to know whether it is there, or to keep an eye out for it showing up. She will also, often, put it to the side for you (of course, you need to be a paid-up Friends member to receive this level of service!). The point is the Lorraine knows her stuff and loves to help people connect with the books they seek.

So in October 2007 when she read an article about refugees in three camps in Darfur lacking books, she and Logan went beyond the typical "oh, that's too bad," response and got busy. They formed a 501(c)(3) (Non-profit) organization and jumped in. The result of their unceasing labors is that today in Bredjing, Treguine and Gaga refugee camps in Eastern Chad, people of all ages are satisfying their hunger for learning to read.  Many desperately want to learn English as it is considered the "ticket to freedom".

Book Wish Foundation has partnered with CORD (a UK charity) to set up the needs lists and supply lines. Air France has helped. Oxford University Press has helped (publishers of the Headway English language learning series), Hippocrene Press has helped.  Many Northern Virginia eye doctors and optical shops have provided much needed reading glasses. What Lorraine and Logan have done is to connect the dots in our community with the dots that CORD had put in place on their side of the pond.

The website is absolutely amazing. Transparency is their middle name. This is not a charity that is holding anything back. EVERYTHING goes to getting the necessary materials to the people in the camps. Logan works around the clock ensuring that every possible improvement to the process is explored. (Their website should serve as an example to charities as well as commercial websites!  It is awesome).  GO TO the website to see the photos of the JOY that radiates from people handling the new, shiny, USEFUL books. It is almost palpable.

We've always known our volunteers are exceptional, and that's just when they're working with us! But what Lorraine and Logan have done, and are committed to continue doing, is the epitome of the volunteer spirit. Their work personifies, "Love Your Neighbor." If you'd like to join with them, spend some time on their website.  Even if you're not sure about joining with them, their website is inspiring and full of hope so you should check it out.  Here are some Book Wish ongoing projects:

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