“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”
– Margaret Fuller, author and activist
Every year, Catherine Cook School, a K-8 private school in Chicago’s Old Town community on the North Side, organizes several community projects that the students can participate in. Last year, the Service Committee of parents decided to do something to benefit UCAN. At first, they thought of collecting baby clothes for our clients, but they wanted the students to be able to participate as well.
After discussions and brainstorms with Laura Angelucci, Executive Vice President of Administration, and Tamara Reed Tran, Associate Vice President of Development, the committee pivoted their plans toward a book drive coordinated by the school’s youth to benefit UCAN youth.
The response from the Catherine Cook community was “overwhelming,” according to Susan McNally Wilde, a member of the Cook School committee and vice chair of the UCAN Governing Board. They received enough gently used books to fill an entire counseling room.
Due to the success of the drive, the committee decided to take their idea one step further. Perhaps some shelves? An area for a small library? Ellen Kellogg, a Cook parent and the then-head of the Service Committee, solicited the help of Demeter Millwork, a Chicago-based construction company. Demeter Millwork agreed to build in-unit shelving at UCAN’s Nichols Center headquarters to hold the books and make them easily accessible for UCAN youth. Next, volunteers sorted, organized and shelved the books into their new home.
Today, UCAN is thankful to have our wonderful Read-a-Book Nook, a quiet, take-home library of books for youth of any age. An official dedication ceremony will be held in October, along with another book drive thanks to the Catherine Cook School Service Committee with the hopes to not only replenish the Nichols Center library but open another book nook at a different UCAN location.
“Cook families worked together as a community with UCAN staff and support from Demeter Millwork builders, delivering the idea into a final result that exceeded the expectations of the planners,” says Susan. “Sharing books is good for the planet, good for the UCAN community, and good for Chicagoans. We’re looking forward to replenishing the shelves this year!”