For her Gold Award, Jacqueline remodeled and refurbished the library at Girls Inc. of Kingsport with the hopes to inspire reading and promote literacy.
Girls Inc. of Kingsport, a non-profit organization aiming to “inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold” serves 150 low income girls ages six to 18. Most come from families making less than $20,000 per year.
Jacqueline’s vision was to create a bright, cheerful, and organized space to establish a comfortable and enticing space to read. This meant updating the library by painting the walls and organizing the books. Bean bag chairs were bought for a cozy reading corner.
Paint sticks, decorated in a craft session with the girls, serve as a tool to help browsing visitors know where to return each book. The library was organized by genre and eye level for the appropriate age level; the younger the age, the lower the book would go on the shelf. Every book was stickered and separated by genre with magazine type dividers. An index card was created for each girl which will be used for checking books in and out. Not only did Jacqueline have to figure out a logical and functional way to sort the books but she also took the time to remove old books and ones in bad shape, since many were from the 1950s!
Thanks to the Joyce Maienschein Leadership Grant, she was supported financially for the labels, stickers, bean bag chairs, and paint.
It was important for Jacqueline to consult with the girls at Girl Inc. so they felt empowered in the decision making of their community library, which now has more than 2,000 books.
Starting in late August and finishing in mid-November, the project took a month longer than Jacqueline anticipated. She says the sorting and stickering was a more tedious job than she imagined!
Not only was Jacqueline able to create a space of learning and growth for those in need, but she developed her own leadership skills. To make the library a success, she needed to direct adults in her vision, lead friends as they supported her, and partner with the girls she would directly impact to pass them ownership of the library.
As for the impact of the Gold Award Project, Jacqueline says “the girls are using it and seem to enjoy it. [Developing] literacy will hopefully lead to better test results. Every person deserves a good education so they can get a good job. Improving literacy can help.”
Naturally, Jacqueline loves to read and says her all-time favorite book is “Life as We Knew It” by Susan Beth Pfeffer!