Winnie the Pooh. Cat in the Hat. Clifford the Big Red Dog. Nancy Drew. The Hardy Boys. Berenstein Bears. Boxcar Children.
You may remember these books from your childhood or reading to your children. I sure do. Right now, our office in Middletown’s Riverview Center is filled with boxes and boxes of these childhood memories thanks to the work of the United Way Women’s Initiative.
The Women’s Initiative is a movement of women who are uniting to create opportunities for a better life for women and children in Middlesex County. They volunteer and raise and distribute funds to support and strengthen programs focusing on early childhood development, empowering young women, and financial stability. They also host an annual financial stability workshop in partnership with Liberty Bank and Middlesex Community College for students and the community.
The book drive is one of the ways the Women’s Initiative supports Middlesex United Way’s education work. One of our goals here at United Way is to increase children’s readiness to learn by school entry. Learning starts long before school does, and the early years of childhood development are critical. We support programs that assist young children to become school ready and also educate parents about the important role they play in their child's earliest years. Reading to kids is critical to a child’s development, and so is access to books.
Books were collected by members of the Women’s Initiative, through their personal and professional networks. We collected them here at our office, and so did Season’s Federal Credit Union, Middlesex Community College, Godiva, Rathbun Free Memorial Library, East Haddam Free Public Library, MARC: Community Resources, and Citizen’s Bank.
All told, the Women’s Initiative collected 1,542 books!
We currently have stacks of books in our office, ready to be sorted and distributed to local agencies serving children in Middlesex County, including local Head Start programs as well as East Haddam Youth Services Bureau, the Department of Children and Families in Middletown, and Pretty Wings.
If you would like to learn more about this group and their work, please join them for a networking breakfast Jan. 23 from 8 to 9 a.m. at Water’s Edge Center for Health & Rehabilitation in Middletown, or for their Annual Meeting Feb. 7 at 5:30 p.m. at the Village at South Farms, Middletown. For more information, please visit www.middlesexunitedway.org/WI.