Women2Women Youth Summer Reading Program – The Inaugural Year

By: Rachel Romig

In early 2017 the annual Women2Women Spring Expo here in Reading, PA showed the video of their interview with the family of Katherine Johnson, the mathematician behind NASA and of “Hidden Figures” fame. The focus was Katherine’s amazing accomplishments during a time that not only didn’t recognize women as higher figures in the working world (let alone NASA) but also during a time of hardship and segregation for African Americans like Katherine.

A few weeks later Women2Women held a private showing of “Hidden Figures” and asked the theatre full of women if they would want to donate $5. These funds were going to be used to purchase a young readers edition of “Hidden Figures”. The plan: engage young readers in our community to read this book in groups and discussion over the summer to beat the “summer slide” of learning. That day Women2Women raised enough money to purchase over 600 books. I joined a committee that spearheaded the new Youth Summer Reading Program and we reached out to everyone we could think of to get these books in the hands of young readers. We created a mission statement, discussion guide and social media engagement ideas, created a presentation about the book by chapter, and even offered ourselves as volunteers to read the books with the kids. It’s been an amazing success and we were able to get all books in the hands of children…some who we knew might not even own any other books. Now they would.

I feel like I always write my articles about how doing good feels good and that’s because I mean it. But in this case, I got the opportunity to meet other like-minded ladies like myself. They all wanted the same things that I did and that was to encourage our younger community to continue learning and to volunteer their time to make a difference in their lives. Being able to come together as a group for the same cause is empowering. Ask yourself these questions:

What empowers you?                         What makes you genuinely happy?

I’ll tell you what the answer is…It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you FIND IT. When people ask me what my hobbies are I respond with a matter of fact – volunteering to make impactful & positive change. I love the meetings. I love the ideas. And even if it takes time to get there, I love the end results. They make it all worth it knowing that maybe, just maybe, I helped ONE person out there.

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