The idea started in a Brunswick Newcomers meeting when I was listening to Debbie Keener, the Executive Director of Samara’s Village (above, center, with FOLSOI’s Gail Sawchuk, left; and Cindy Phillips, right), tell the audience about their mission of helping Brunswick County teens who are pregnant, or already parents, and their families raise healthy babies.

I appreciated Debbie’s passion, and immediately saw an opportunity for FOLSOI to further our mission as well.  During our strategic planning process this year, our board agreed to seek partnerships where we could reach a wider audience, and specifically in our outreach to underserved communities who are not as likely to use our libraries. This seemed a perfect way to encourage family reading and to provide a jumpstart to a baby receiving their first book.

Debbie and I met to discuss the idea of FOLSOI providing a small gift bag to their families, containing two or three age-appropriate books (birth to three years old); tips for reading to and with an infant or toddler; and a small blanket to celebrate the birth. Our goal was to reach the families early, and to reinforce the importance of reading and story time in the development of a healthy baby.

The partnership came together quickly, and within a few months the FOLSOI Board approved the funds, and with the assistance of Gail Sawchuk (another FOLSOI board member), we assembled and delivered 20 gift bags to Samara’s Village to support and encourage reading in these new families.  It’s a win-win, and an example where our county’s nonprofits can work together on a shared mission!