Since its inception in 1946, the Junior League of San Angelo (JLSA) has been at the forefront of recognizing the needs in our community and creating outstanding projects to fulfill those needs. Some examples of past projects initiated by JLSA include the West TexasBoys Ranch (1958), Hospice of San Angelo (1984), Boys & Girls Club (1991), and Food 2 Kids (2007). Last year was the final year for our signature project, Food 2 Kids. We have partnered with the Concho Valley Food Bank since the beginning of the project and handed it over to them in June of last year.
Realizing that the 100-plus active members in JLSA wish to be involved in worthwhile community service projects, JLSA began accepting applications from the community for a new signature project last summer. Within the League, the Project Research and Development Committee (PRD) was charged with overseeing this endeavor, researching the needs of the community, and presenting a plan to the League. After reviewing many worthy applications from the community, the committee voted to implement a Children’s Literacy Project as JLSA’s next big focus.
While researching literacy in Tom Green County, the PRD committee found that illiteracy is a growing problem in our area. Annually, high school dropouts are costing Texas $9.6 billion, and Texas ranks the lowest among states by percentage of its citizens who have a high school diploma or GED. Specifically in Tom Green County, 20-25% of the population is illiterate.The committee agreed that focusing on children’s literacy would be an excellent avenue to increase reading enthusiasm in San Angelo and the surrounding area. Recent educational studies have shown that children who are not fluent readers are more likely to have lower self-esteem, more likely to have discipline problems, and are less likely to graduate high school. JLSA wants to do its part to help diminish these issues!
Starting last summer, a formal committee within JLSA began tackling the community’s literacy issue. During the first year, the plan is to work with the Tom Green County Library (TGCL) to build a “Little Free Library” to increase enthusiasm about literature (www.littlefreelibrary.org). Leading up to this permanent building, the committee renovated and painted a storage building to create a mobile library. This mobile library was completed in October and has been a visual marker of the League’s commitment to children’s literacy, as well as an excellent outreach opportunity for the committee. The mobile library is a visually appealing, interactive book housing structure on wheels, where children can be inspired by literature and take home books to continue their reading adventure!
The Children’s Literacy Project committee plans to utilize the mobile library at various community events that focus on children, including the Children’s Health Fair, Touch a Truck, and National Library Week at the TGCL. The committee has also begun planning several of its own unique events in which the mobile library will play a significant role. With the goal of reaching children from all over the community, a few of the partner organizations for these events include the San Angelo Boys and Girls Club, the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo, and the San Angelo Civic Ballet.
In subsequent years, the committee will mold the scope of the literacy project to fit the needs of both JLSA and the community.
Besides creating worthwhile service opportunities for League members and fostering positive community relationships, the hope is for this project to increase reading enthusiasm and provide access to books for young people across San Angelo and the surrounding counties. Through the Children’s Literacy Project, JLSA can also help increase self-esteem, self-discipline, creativity, and education retention in the youth of the area.
If you would like to learn more about our Children's Literacy Project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org