Tag Archives: literacy

Resolve to Serve Stories: Begin Anew of Middle Tennessee

Only one in 300 children living in a low-income neighborhood owns an age-appropriate book. One.

While completing her undergraduate studies at Belmont, Casey Enright was moved by this statistic – and in response, she founded The Word Wagon, a nonprofit that promotes childhood literacy by providing reading opportunities and reading materials for children who lack access to books. To reach its target audience, The Word Wagon partners with Begin Anew, which serves men and women in Middle Tennessee living in poverty.

With a mobile library in tow, Casey reads to all of the  children while their parents attend Begin Anew’s adult education classes. The Word Wagon enhances Begin Anew’s Program by allowing each child to take home a bundle of books to read with his or her parents, allowing Begin Anew’s ESL students to bond with their children as they continue to learn the English language and practice reading at home.

As The Word Wagon and Begin Anew work together, both organizations find new ways to fulfill their missions through partnership. In October, at The Church at Woodbine’s Fall Fiesta, supported by Begin Anew, Casey set up the Word Wagon on a remarkably cold day. Her enthusiasm, despite the weather, engaged several new families in the community who came to the event, establishing meaningful community relationships while promoting literacy. Said Begin Anew Program Director Charlotte Hanson, “Casey’s work has a great impact on building connections between our ministry and the neighborhood.”

Casey Enright.jpg
Casey Enright, Founder and Executive Director of The Word Wagon

“Taking a leap of faith to launch The Word Wagon was the scariest “yes,” but the best “yes” I could have ever said!” said Casey. We couldn’t agree more – thank you for your service, Casey!

Begin Anew empowers individuals to overcome the obstacles caused by poverty by providing education, mentoring, and resources. The faith-based educational program and missional, life-changing community is composed of more than 250 champions (volunteers) and a ministry staff. Each volunteer dedicates their time and energy to offer mercy and care. Browse all volunteer opportunities with Begin Anew here.

Photos courtesy of The Word Wagon.

3,700 Books Donated through 6th Annual YVC, Book ’em Drive for Kids!

Throughout the month of January and February, nine schools participated in the 6th annual Hands On Nashville and Book ’em Book Drive for Kids! Continue reading 3,700 Books Donated through 6th Annual YVC, Book ’em Drive for Kids!

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: Books from Birth of Middle Tennessee

Desi Smith’s granddaughter, age 3, seems to have a sixth sense for books that are en route to her house. “She always seems to know when her book is in the mail,” Ms. Smith says. “Because of this program, she has such a passion for books and words, and I believe that she will be a great student when it comes time for school. We had three babies born in our church last week, and because of [my granddaughter’s] love for reading, all the parents signed up for Books from Birth.” This amazing organization is turning children into readers, one book at a time.

The mission of Books from Birth of Middle Tennessee is to increase literacy and school readiness while strengthening family relationships. The organization has three early childhood literacy programs:

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (32,000 kids receive one book a month from birth through age five, regardless of family income and at no cost to the family)
• Jo’s Reach Out & Read Book Club (at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt)
• The Family Literacy Program

With only three staff, volunteers are essential in helping with day-to-day maintenance of this organization. Many volunteers fill ongoing needs such as picking up undeliverable books from the post office, registering children for the Imagination Library, reading to kids in clinic waiting rooms, and in-office administrative tasks. While these ongoing volunteer slots are currently full, interested volunteers can email cathy.riviere@vanderbilt.edu to sign up for the mailing list to find out when new slots become available. There are also many one-time needs such as assisting with annual fundraisers (committee chairs, silent auction, set-up/tear-down, marketing, etc.) and participating in community events.

Upcoming Books from Birth volunteer opportunities:

Family Valentine’s Dance – Sat., Feb. 11, The Factory at Franklin:
This annual family-friendly event needs registration volunteers from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Please contact Cathy Riviere at cathy.riviere@vanderbilt.edu to sign up or for more information. Click here for details about the dance and tickets.

Sat., March 24, Belmont United Methodist Church:
This volunteer-driven annual fundraiser features local cupcake vendors and bakers, with proceeds benefiting Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Volunteers are needed for the following shifts:

• 12-2 p.m. Setup, sign holders, picking up cupcakes
• 2-5 p.m. Registration, ticket sales, kids area, cupcake stations
• 5-7 p.m. Cleanup/teardown

All volunteers will be entitled to sample a designated number of cupcakes! Read more about this event on the Facebook event page  and click here to sign up.