May | 2014
Our Push to Create and Rejuvenate School Libraries: It's Working! Exciting Things Ahead
With a spacious refurbished library room, complete with new windows and electrical service, Paula Blake-Toney, the principal of 375-student Georgetown Primary School on the island of St. Vincent, plans the creation of a new school library with Harriet Linskey, Co-Founder of Hands, following the seven steps of the Hands Library Manual for Primary Schools
We're well into our seventh year of raising the literacy levels of Caribbean children, and after assisting 215 schools and reading programs across the Eastern Caribbean, we know three things for sure. The road to success, as detailed in our CLASS (Caribbean Literacy and School Support
program, is a three-step process: 1. Send Great New Books; 2. Create or Rejuvenate Lending Libraries; 3. Sustain the Gains. During our work in Eastern Caribbean schools in 2013/2014, we made a big push on Step 2 and Step 3: we facilitated the creation of vibrant lending librariesoften where none existed beforeand we made sure that the right peoplesuch as our Hands Literacy Links
and processes are in place so that these libraries become an integral part of the school. It's working!
Following the seven steps of the
Hands Library Manual for Primary Schools
(a highly useful guide for secondary schools, too), we're seeing a lot of success stories. School libraries are being born. School libraries that, over the years, have become little more than tombs of old, discarded, inappropriate books, are being rejuvenated. Children are discovering the joy and excitement of reading, and the life-changing power of literacy. As more students take books home to share with their siblings and parents, school principals and teachers report that positive effects of their school library are rippling through families and the community. It's very exciting to see this firsthand! We thank you, loyal Hands supporters, for putting us in a position where we can help make it happen.
Hands Literacy Links: Sustain the Literacy Gains
To strengthen Step 3 of the CLASS Program—Sustain the Gains—we have recruited Hands Literacy Links
on each island. In most cases a retired school principal, teacher, or community volunteer,
Literacy Links are people who have demonstrated a passionate commitment to a brighter future for children and a strong belief in the life-changing power of books, reading, and literacy. A Hands Literacy Link must reside on Antigua, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, or Grenada. The Literacy Link helps manage the distribution of Hands Wish Lists shipments and works to optimize the impact and sustainability of Hands assistance. Literacy Links interact with a variety of on-island stakeholders, including school principals, teachers, librarians, directors of reading programs and after-school programs, Ministry of Education officials, U. S. Peace Corps Volunteers, and representatives of companies or NGOs that are supporting Hands Wish Lists projects. Literacy Links are representing Hands, and they're doing everything that needs to be done to sustain the impact of the Hands mission.
Our Partners: Dedicated to Children of the Eastern Caribbean
We are proud and fortunate to have the following foundations and companies supporting the Hands mission. They clearly share our belief that "literacy is the gift that lasts a lifetime." They've proven it by demonstrating their commitment to positive change in the wonderful place that is the Caribbean.— Harriet, T.L, and Colin.
Mill Reef Fund
Established in 1948, the Mill Reef Fund has supported countless medical, educational, general welfare, and religious institutions on Antigua and Barbuda. At the moment, Mill Reef Fund is assisting over 40 great causes—including child literacy and the creation of school libraries through Hands Across the Sea—by adopting nine of the 18 Antigua schools on our 2013-2014 Hands Wish Lists. Mill Reef Fund also adopted two of the Antigua schools of our 2012-2013 Hands Wish List. Mill Reef Fund is a caring, dedicated group of people who are devoted to positive change, and the key support they're giving to Hands and child literacy is making difference in the lives of over 3,300 children on Antigua.
The Sandals Foundation, the corporate responsibility arm of legendary Sandals Resorts, accomplishes a tremendous amount of good in the Caribbean. The Sandals Foundation brings medical assistance to those in need, is a leading light in environmental programs, and makes all sorts of community and educational programs possible in disadvantaged areas. In their initial partnering with Hands, the Sandals Foundation adopted six St. Lucia schools of our 2013/2014 Hands Wish Lists with outstanding funding for much-needed brand new books and metal library shelving (termite proof!). We're looking forward to working with the Sandals Foundation in St. Lucia and in Grenada for 2014-2015.
Western Union Foundation
Building cool new school libraries on Dominica, the "Nature Island" of the Caribbean! Thanks to its "Education for Better" global initiative and the generous support of H. H. V. Whitchurch & Co., Ltd., the Dominica agent for Western Union, funding from the Western Union Foundation created school libraries at one primary school and two secondary schools. Western Union generously supplied funding for everything from a large infusion of new books to infrastructure improvements such as new windows, paint, and air-conditioning. The result is three shining new school libraries, serving over 800 students!
Scotiabank Bright Future
Scotiabank does business in all of the islands where Hands works, and through the global philanthropic reach of their Scotiabank Bright Future program, the financial institution touches a lot of lives. Because education and children's causes are one of the pillars of Bright Future, the bank is supporting Hands with a three-year grant. Scotiabank adopted one 2013-2014 Hands Wish Lists school on each of the six islands (Antigua, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada), making it possible for Hands to ship brand new books to the schools. Community-minded Scotiabank employees on each island have rolled up their sleeves and are volunteering their time to assist the schools with a variety of projects, from painting/refurbishing to working one-on-one with students.
Christophe Harbour Foundation
On the island of St. Kitts there's a new luxury residential resort development, Christophe Harbour, taking shape: a 300-acre marina, mega yacht harbor, 18-hole golf course, beautiful homes and villas—and a companion foundation dedicated to community outreach (conservation, education, recreation, cultural, historical, and social development projects) in St. Kitts. The Christophe Harbour Foundation generously adopted seven St. Kitts schools on our 2013-2014 Hands Wish Lists, including Tyrrell Williams Primary School, the St. Kitts winner of the 2012-2013 Hands Literacy Award. Funding from the Christophe Harbour Foundation allowed Hands to get great new books into the hands of over 2,500 children (five primary schools, two high schools).
Palm Island Resort | Galley Bay Resort & Spa
Rightly famous as two ultimate Caribbean hideaways, Palm Island Resort (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) and Galley Bay Resort & Spa (Antigua) are becoming known for their dedication to improving child literacy, too. From the 2013-2014 Hands Wish Lists Palm Island Resort adopted two primary schools on nearby Union Island (one of them a 2013-2013 Literacy Award winner), while Galley Bay Resort & Spa adopted a primary school just a mile away. With their support, Hands was able to send brand new books to all three schools—prompting one school to create their first-ever library! The donation reached 810 students, from kindergarten through grade 6.
The U. S. Embassy, Bridgetown, Barbados
For the second year in a row, Hands was awarded a Public Affairs Service (PAS) Grant by the U. S. Embassy, Bridgetown, to replenish the libraries of six secondary schools, one each on Antigua, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada. Working closely with school principals and librarians, Hands sent a comprehensive collection to each school, from the best in young-adult fiction to remedial reading books to a wide range of reference, career, and character-building books. Demonstrating the United States' enduring commitment to the Eastern Caribbean, the Hands-administered PAS Grant shipped 3,150 truly great, brand new books to the six high schools, reaching over 3,500 students.
Doing business locally—and giving back locally. FastCash was started in 2007 on the island of Dominica, and quickly opened offices on Antigua, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and St. Kitts. They're expanding their philanthropic reach, too. FastCash adopted six schools from the 2013-2014 Hands Wish Lists, one on each island, making it possible for Hands to ship each school a healthy selection of brand new books (with titles requested by the schools). In all, the donation from FastCash reached over 2,000 children (three primary schools, three secondary schools).
The folks at Windjammer Landing, a "villa beach resort" nestled along one of St. Lucia's white-sugar sand beaches, also believe in assisting local schools — and they have been doing so for years. When Windjammer Landing found one of their favorite primary schools listed among the projects of the 2013-2014 Hands Wish Lists, they adopted the school and made a generous donation to augment the school's newly-refurbished library with "books for boys" and educational games.