When Jim Davidson sent out feelers recently to see if his Conway-based Bookcase for Every Child literacy initiative could be expanded to other communities, one of the first to respond was Rita Neve of Booneville.
Davidson was eager to make a trip to Booneville to help lay the groundwork for a committee — the project is committee led, not organization, or even government agency driven, he stresses. While here Davidson and Neve met with Chamber, school and other officials.
"It’s all about giving back," says Davidson. "Nobody involved with our project earns a penny for what they do."
"I thought our community could benefit from this kind of a project," said Neve, who operates Mother’s Touch, an ABC daycare center, here. "We’re a very community minded town. There are people who will get involved with this."
Money for the project is generated through a banquet that attracts about 400 each year and craftsmen volunteer to construct the bookcase, which are presented in an awards ceremony.
"The goal is to have 50 low income children who will have beautiful oak book cases that are personalized that have a full set of books," said Neve. "A lot of kids don’t even have a book in their home. Through ABC and CDI we can identify these kids."
Neve adds, "We’ve got so many kids that come into our preschool who don’t even know how to handle a book. We have to show them the basics because they’ve never had books in their home."
Davidson’s project has been operating in Conway for nine years — Neve envisions an ongoing project here as well. The project has been featured in newspaper supplement American Profile magazine and is slated for another in Parade magazine, also a newspaper supplement.
The committee, Davdison said, needs representation from civic clubs, a librarian, the director of the Head Start program, schools, craftsmen, business and industry, and others.
"The reason we want people from all these areas is because when you ask who does illiteracy impact, the answer is everybody," said Davidson.
Anyone who shares Neve’s vision can give her a call at 675-3229.