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Read to Know’s Youth

Looking back over nearly ten years, it is time to acknowledge the contributions of some children and youth who have helped Read to Know fulfill its mission. Much of our work takes place during the school day. Even so, Andrew Fusco read at the Hackensack YMCA after school all through high school! This year, Ravi Saralya, a River Dell student has been doing the same thing at the Y. Ravi is off for Rutgers this fall.

Young people whose schedules don’t permit regular reading have contributed in a vast number of other ways. Here are a few stories:

Gabriela Billini, Miss Teenage Latina of the United States, read to the children at the 2009 Spring BookFest! at the Paterson Library. Gabriela is working in fashion design in New York and still keeps in touch.

Adele Taylor started her own library program at the age of 13 in south Jersey. She made the trip up to Hackensack to bring us books and read at the Hackensack BookFest! in 2011 and 2012. Adele is now a student at Furman University in Atlanta.

Young people have helped in other aspects of our BookFests, as well. The Paterson Girl Scouts have turned out for the past three years and individual young people have helped every year.

One of the areas in which youth have been particularly active is book drives. Organizations such as William Paterson Student United Way, Girl Scout troops, 4-H clubs, and Cub Scout dens have all collected and donated many, many books to Read to Know. Individuals have also run book drives. Kari Wong and Lia Ward, two girls who were 8th graders at Benjamin Franklin Middle School at the time, ran a drive in spring 2014 and have indicated they will do it again whenever we have the need. Last year, Sebastian Dash, a 9 year old, collected over 900 books. He had so much fun that he has talked his friend Kyle Purvin into doing a similar drive this year!

Kyle and his Mom worked at the Paterson BookFest! this spring to see how their donation was used. It was great to see Kyle making recommendations to book-seekers and even giving away some of his own books with a smile. Students have also helped us in the summer, reading at our center, helping with the Paterson Library summer program, and assisting with both the Paterson and Hackensack Rec Department summer events. College students Simir Gill and Brianne Hofstuffer read last summer, giving some of our regular readers a break. Radha Tummalapenta, a student at Bergen academies, has read for us for the past two summers. Zack Weisner, a student at Hasbrouck Heights High School, and his mom have been regular book sorters and have also helped at BookFests.

We are grateful to the many young people who have helped Read to Know in its mission to foster literacy and a love of reading in children. They have been more than generous with their time and talents, and are truly making a difference in the world around them.