On February 10, 2023 at Lincoln South Rotary Club, Kathleen Ousey - Co-Executive Director of Linked 2 Literacy told us bout the non-profit organization.
Kathleen "Kat" started by demonstrating how a person can engage a child with the proper books and methods - rather than just reading words you can engage them by asking questions and have them participate in the activity.
By using the right book you can ask questions that will help the child understand shapes and colors. You can ask about and imagine smells and sounds. It is important to use age appropriate books and questions. She said that, for older children, this time can help create space for conversation enriching the relationship between child and parent.
Kat's organization has been providing donated books to others - primarily organizations service the underserved. They find organizations that are willing to provide the finances behind a program. They are currently working with 22 organizations - sourcing the best books for their specific needs and programs.
The program is set up so that the books are purchased for the organization and then given to the child to keep. They believe that book ownership leads to increased literacy.
The co-founders have been donating books for years - prior to forming their organization. She said that, before the were Linked2Literacy they were just a couple of moms trying to make a difference. They have a particular passion for foster children because of their own experience. Foster children have social and emotional needs that are different from children who have been raised in a single home. The books provide a means to discover emotions, understand them, and learn appropriate actions.
They work with the organizations to determine the needs then they search, and research, to find the books that will provide the support that is needed. They have worked with Mourning Hope which assists grieving children; they have helped Friendship Home which is a shelter for women and children - possibly from abusive homes. They are also able to provide books in alternate languages - they are more difficult and cost more but they can find them.
The organization is completely volunteer - no paid staff and no budget.
From their website: " We identify literacy needs of nonprofits and organizations. Linked2Literacy promotes mental health and wellness, closes the reading gap, and believes important skills are developed through the ownership of quality books, educational games and puzzles.  We affirm our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Every child, regardless of their ability, ethnicity, culture, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity deserves to see themselves in the pages or cover of a book."