(part of a monthly series)

How did you first hear or learn about Books for Keeps?

I first heard about Books for Keeps in 2016 when former UGA wide receiver and alumnus Malcolm Mitchell spoke at a University of Georgia development meeting about his children’s book, The Magician’s Hat, and his partnership with Books for Keeps to provide a copy to every first-grade student in the Clarke County School District. BFK’s mission to provide underserved schools with books for kids immediately piqued my interest and I was excited to learn that that BFK’s founder, Melany Smith, also worked at UGA.

How long have you been volunteering or serving with Books for Keeps?

I’m a newbie! Former BFK member and friend, Jamie Cumbie, thought I would enjoy the opportunity to give back to the community through this organization as much as she did and threw my name in the hat as a nominee for the board, which I enthusiastically pursued. I was fortunate enough to be accepted and have been serving with Books for Keeps since January 2021.

Why did you choose to serve on the Books for Keeps’ board?

Being a part of the University of Georgia as both a student and employee has afforded me countless opportunities but I wanted to engage more with the greater community. I am an advocate for higher education for all and I think it is critical that kids develop their reading and critical thinking skills as early as possible so that they can be put on a path toward academic success. Books for Keeps helps fill the gap of inequity by providing books for kids who may not otherwise have access to them, which is a mission I am proud to support.

Have you had an inspiring/memorable interaction with a student since working with Books for Keeps?

Since I am a new volunteer and board member (and because the COVID 19 pandemic has delayed many in-person events), I have not had the opportunity to interact with students but am looking forward to the chance when I can!

Have you worked with other non-profits in the past? Which ones?

I have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in the past and currently work for the University of Georgia.

What strengths are you bringing to Books for Keeps?

I hope that my experience in stewardship can help communicate the value and impact that Books for Keeps has on children to stakeholders, donors, and the community at large.

What is your favorite memory from working with Books for Keeps?

I have received a very warm welcome from the board and can’t wait to jump head first into helping to organize the book fair, developing new fundraising priorities, and delivering books to schools.

Do you have a keen childhood memory related to a particular book? Or an experience with reading – to yourself or to a loved one?

I have three nieces and a goddaughter who all have a love for reading and it’s been a joy to introduce them to new books, hear what kinds of books they are excited about, and read stories to them before they can read them on their own. It’s a special opportunity to revisit favorite books from my childhood, like The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Harry Potter.

What is your absolute favorite book?

Well, it is nearly impossible to choose just one but I will say anything written by Kurt Vonnegut. I discovered his work in high school (as so many people do) and instantly fell in love with his dry sarcasm, incomparable wit, and his talent for exploring complex themes of social equality through a minimalist writing style.

What would you read if you could only read one book for the rest of your life?

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut