When we began this initiative last year, meeting with the YWCA San Diego to develop a campaign that would honor Jenny, I didn't realize the magnitude of lives it would touch. We held Book Drives and heard from families across the county about how meaningful it was to donate their beloved books to children in need. We received calls from parents with children that had left for college and were reflecting fondly on memories of them snuggled up with a book and the impact reading had on their lives. We met teachers, business owners, non profit organizations, and children sharing beloved stories and fond recollections of grabbing a book and entering another world. For children fleeing domestic violence situations and homelessness, we are hopeful these reading spaces provide a safe place to heal, to dream and find comfort.
Jenny and I met in Advanced Placed English our freshmen year of high school when we were seated alphabetically. We immediately clicked. We would go on to sit together for the next four years of high-school, graduate and major in Comparative Literature at the same college taking many of the same classes together. Jenny loved reading and dove headfirst into a course dedicated only to the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky. I had contemplated it until I learned one of his books, The Brothers Karamazoo, was nearly 800 pages! I happily enjoyed her summary of it over the semester. It was these times, when we exchanged thoughts, ideas and contemplated possibilities, that we bonded. There was magic in those conversations, finding our way and discovering ourselves as we journeyed to other times, and lands, met kings and queens, and embarked upon adventures. We hope the children that enter the reading spaces embark upon all the riches of a great read too.