Books To Kids Program Director, Jim Selin with Maria Prout, Principal of the Bootheville-Venice Elementary School south of New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Rick Katzenberg)
Books To Kids has donated at least 300,000 high
quality books since the project began after Hurricane Katrina in 2005! BTK started off 2020 giving away 2000 books during the Mardi Gras “Chewbacchus” parade and delivering another 3,000 books to New Orleans area schools while also reconnecting with our school principal liaisons. Special thanks to the Philip R. Jonsson Foundation, the Posel Foundation, volunteers Shannon DiGenova, Marlow Wolters, William Slattery and Kevin Curley.
In January, Books To Kids began a new relationship with the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court in New Orleans, who wrote to us recently:
Thank you on behalf of the children and families served
at Orleans Parish Juvenile Court in Orleans Parish, Louisiana. Receiving the donation of 501 children’s books from Jim Selin on January 29, 2020 filled our Little Free Library located in the lobby of the Orleans Parish Justice Center. We have several boxes held in reserve to restock the shelves as well.
Families being served by the Juvenile Court, the Juvenile District Attorney and the youth public defender organization, Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights, are able to enjoy the books during their wait and are very pleased to take home as many books as they wish. Juvenile literacy is very important in school-success and positive self-image. We are pleased to see 50 to 100 books per week move through our site into the homes of our families. We are so grateful for the connection to “Books To Kids” and parent organization, “Plenty International” for reaching out to us in partnership.
SPRING AND SUMMER 2020
Roy Maloney, Chairman of the Project Committee of the Rotary Club of Punta Gorda, Belize, presents a “Certificate of Completion” to one of 22 women in the village of Santa Cruz who received training in the Maya Women’s Livelihood Strengthening Project.
With sincere appreciation,
Ann Maier, Orleans Parish Juvenile Court
(See BTK, p. 2)
Roy (left) and Mark Miller, Plenty Belize Executive Director pose with the four Mayan women who conducted the training for phase one of the project. (Left to right) Reina Co, Hortencia Velasquez, Vilma Coc and
Randine Williams. (See Plenty Belize, p.3)
Plenty International is a nongovernmental relief and development organization. Donations to Plenty are tax-deductible.
Plenty, P.O. Box 394, Summertown, TN 38483
Phone: 931-964-4323 Email: email@example.com Website: www.plenty.org
(BTK cont. from p. 1)
Passing out books to kids along the Chewbacchus Mardi Gras Parade route.
Books To Kids volunteer Shannon DiGenova, (rt.) shown here with Elan “Blue” Wolters, has been biking around New Orleans stocking BTK’s Little Free Libraries with books.
Trail of Tears Commemorative Art in
Bernice Davidson, a Tennessee artist who has worked with Plenty for many years, has been instrumental in the creation of Trail of Tears commemorations in Pulaski, Tennessee, where several of her works are displayed. In 2001, Bernice and others met with Giles County leaders, including the Mayor of Pulaski, to address the legacy of racism in Pulaski. After the meeting the U.S. National Parks Association partnered with the Cherokee Nation to memorialize the two trails that crossed through Pulaski. In the late 1830’s over 1000 Cherokee people were forcibly marched along each trail to relocation. The Mars candy family donated a stone chapel, which was moved to the site, and which became the Trail of Tears Interpretive Center. Additionally, $900,000 was raised to move the chapel and develop the Center and surrounding site.
Now at the Interpretive Center, Bernice is working on the installation of “A Children’s View of the Trail of Tears.” This project consists of children’s drawings of their
impressions of the Trail of Tears that will be hung in a
local underpass walkway. This element of the project began in 2003, when Bernice received a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission (TAC), to teach Giles County middle and high school students about the Trail of Tears. Bernice combined historical education on the subject, with art instruction about depicting those involved in a way that connects with and captures the raw emotion. The students generated over 600 paintings. In the following year, she received a grant from TAC to create mosaic benches using student artwork as inspiration. Six benches were initially made and placed at the Giles County Trail of Tears Interpretive Center. In 2005, Martin Methodist College, where Bernice had been a professor of art for 15 years, funded 6 more beaded mosaic benches. These were created with the names of the heads of Cherokee households who had marched on the trails near Pulaski as they appeared
on the Army muster roll of 1838. These benches are to be donated this year to the Interpretive Center.
Bernice’s portrait of Wilma Mankiller (above) will be on permanent display at the Interpretive Center. Wilma was
the first woman elected Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.
(See Trail of Tears p. 4)
(Photo by Dominique)
(Plenty Belize, cont. from p. 1)
Maya Women’s Livelihood
The Rotary Club of Cochrane, Alberta, Canada donated $11,000 toward a total project budget of $17,000 for this new project. Plenty Belize is the implementing partner, contributing in-kind donations, project management support and helping to seek additional funding.
The new project focuses on three Mopan Maya villages: Santa Cruz, Santa Elena, and Pueblo Viejo. The Maya communities in southern Belize are the poorest and most marginalized segment of the population, living on an average annual income of about 1/10 of the figure for the country as a whole. Based on a community assessment car- ried out for nearly a year, the biggest needs were identified as women’s empowerment for community and economic development.
The project is supporting the emergence of women leaders at the village level, by increasing skills related to planning and implementing household and community development initiatives, including the creation of small businesses. A leadership training program is holding workshops on such topics as economic planning, leadership, community small business opportunities, governance for new initiatives, conflict resolution, and managing savings and loans programs. Technical support and small seed grants will be made available to a women’s livelihood proposal that involves the direct participation of a group of women in each of the three villages and provides a demonstrable benefit beyond just new income for its members. The direct beneficiaries of this project are 120 women and 45 leaders from the three villages; the indirect benefits will extend to the 1,500 population of these villages.
Kids To The Country
KTC counselor Biko Casini (right) leads a drummng performance during a KTC summer session talent show in July, 2019 (Photo by Tunja Ashford)
This summer, KTC is heading into its 34th year in Tennessee. The summer 2020 program will have to be
determined by conditions related to the coronavirus.
Children making crafts as presents for family and friends during the December 2019 Kwanzaa celebration.
KTC hosted 60 children for Kwanzaa festivities this previous December in Nashville. Senior KTC Staff member Sizwe Herring conducted the annual ceremony, which also included a round of the KTC theme song. Both new and familiar faces enjoyed crafts, food and the tables of free books from Plenty’s Books To Kids. The winter Kwanzaa celebration keeps our ‘KTC kids’ connected during the year and reinforces the program philosophy of encourag- ing respect and friendship with each other and the natural
world.KTC has been a long-standing bright spot for so many vulnerable and disadvantaged children in Nashville. During the 4-day summer sessions and day trips, KTC combines practical conflict resolution skills and environmental awareness with activities such as horseback riding, gardening, swimming, and talent shows. Approximately 150 Nashville kids participate each year, and many other young people benefit from the program learning social, job, and leadership skills by serving as counselors, and counselors-in-training. KTC is fortunate to have access to the rural and ecologically unique 1750 acres of the Farm Community in Summertown, TN.
KTC volunteer Ginger Lee reads a book to a child at the Books To Kids table at the Kwanzaa event. More than 300 books were given out during the gathering.
Pine Ridge Updates
(Trail of Tears cont. from p. 2)
In 2019, Plenty received a generous grant from the Do
Some Good Trust Fund for Bernice to create art projects that address racism and environmental problems. This has allowed Bernice and her collaborators to continue work on 10 more benches. Eventually a total of 22 benches will be placed around the park surrounding the Interpretive Center.
One of the children’s drawings of the Trail of Tears that will be exhibited at the Interpretive Center.
Be A Helping Hand
One of the Nashville nonprofits impacted by the tornado and the virus is Be A Helping Hand (BHH), which was established in 2001 as a nonprofit Community Housing Development Organization in Nashville. Due to unprecedented growth, Nashville is facing a housing affordability crisis that has led to displacement and forced residents to spend more than half their income on housing. North Nashville is a predominately underserved African American community dealing with high levels of incarceration, infant mortality, unemployment, and poverty. BHH works to provide individuals and families in North Nashville with affordable housing, education, and nature programs to strengthen a strong foundation for a safe, healthy home and supportive community.
Currently BHH is housing 38 single mothers and their 79 children. The majority of the North Nashville tenants are African American, female heads of household who work in the service industry. Some had to be relocated due to the tornado damage and power outages. One of their houses was completely destroyed (photo above). These women have lost their jobs as a result of the virus pandemic. Plenty has awarded BHH a grant for their relief efforts. www.facebook.com/bahelpinghand/
Willard Fool Bull, Jr. manages the greenhouse for the
Pine Ridge Gardens Project. (Photo by Milo Yellow Hair)
Project Manager Milo Yellow Hair said the following on his Pine Ridge KILI Radio show in April:
Lakota people always say that food is the first power. 70%
to 80% of what is consumed around the world has its roots in North, South and Central America. And so you have to imagine what would Italy be, without the tomato …All these things, peppers, potatoes, all the different kinds of squashes, all these kinds of things come from this part of the world, and it is our gift to the rest of the world. Whether we like it or not, we’ll have to call it a gift even though most of the time it’s been stolen.
That traditional knowledge, that intellectual property that is rightfully belonging to the indigenous peoples of this part
of the world, has been a boon for people all over the world. So, again, we just have to remember that and take heart in the idea that when we put a tomato seed down and we put a potato seed down, all these things have roots in history in this part of the world.
Recently Plenty has developed a relationship with a program at Pine Ridge called BEAR (Be Excited About Reading). Books To Kids has donated over 1,000 children’s books and a dozen basketballs to BEAR, which have been given to families on the Reservation. We are also helping them set up a protective mask-making proj- ect, which will be staffed by Lakota young people.
From the BEAR website:
The BEAR Program is a literacy and life outreach project for youth and families on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (Oglala Lakota) in South Dakota. Our mission is to empower the youth, families, and community to make positive choices, improving
the lives of thousands of Indian people. The BEAR Program is locally-led, trusted, and delivers proven results. Working out of the “BEAR Cave” at Billy Mills Hall, we educate, we help heal, change lives, and we get things done! The BEAR Program addresses the many struggles facing Native youth such as: literacy skills, high school drop out rate, bullying, need for
peer mentoring, making good decisions, alcohol and drugs, relationships, teen and family struggles, suicide, death, dying, and grief. The BEAR Project is about bringing together the four colors of mankind, strengthening hope, with dignity and making a difference. http:bearproject.net
(photo by Mark Wright)
Karen’s Soy Nutrition Project
Karen’s Soy Nutrition Project in Guatemala City has begun to provide food for pickup by families who normally live off what they are able to salvage and sell from the enormous city dump. The lockdown due to the virus has closed that income source. KSNP has had to stop giving food to the children of these families twice a week as well. Plenty has continued to pay project staff who are working to deep clean the facilities where the food is prepared and given out and get equipment repaired. Lately however the staff have been able to buy food in the market and offer it for carefully restricted pickup by families who have lost their only source of income.