April 10, 2014

Flying Pig Bookstore Supports the Storybook Program

Posted in Donor Spotlight, Events, Kids-A-Part, Volunteer Spotlight tagged , , , , , at 12:07 pm by Lund

When Justin, aged 7, hears a bedtime story from his mom, she is actually miles away from him at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility (CRCF) where she is incarcerated.  Yet every night Justin and his mom can share the experience of a bedtime story thanks to the Storybook program run by Kids-A-Part.  Moms are helped to record themselves reading stories and then the recording and the book are given to their child.  It is a simple but extremely important way for moms and children to stay connected despite the distance between them.   Justin can hear his mom’s voice any time he wants to.

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. This is having long-lasting impacts on American society. There is a growing awareness that incarceration is not solely a hardship for the inmates, but children of incarcerated parents are the largest most at-risk group of at-risk children. The Bureau of Justice estimates that on any given day there are more than 2.4 million children in the United States with a parent in prison. The number of children with a mother in prison has more than doubled since 1991; an increase of at least 131% over the last 20 years. The Vermont Department of Corrections reports that 994 women sentenced to prison terms between October 2010 and October 2011 had between them 848 children.

During the month of April, the Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne is collecting books to be donated to this program.  It’s very simple to go into the store, choose a heart with the title of a book written on it hanging from the ceiling and buy the book with a 20% discount.  The books will then be brought over to Lund where the Kids-A-Part staff and volunteers will bring them to the correctional facility and start reading.  “People come in at this time of year and it helps them to think outside themselves and what the Easter Bunny is going to bring them, ” says Josie Leavitt, owner of the Flying Pig.  “Parents have kids pick the book that they loved most when they were younger and it gives them a chance to think about helping someone else.  Sometimes people are nervous about the moms being in prison and I tell them to get over it.  You can buy a book and help a kid out, why wouldn’t you?”

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The connection between Flying Pig and Lund began several years ago when one of marvelous volunteers (Thanks Susan!) approached Josie about helping the Storybook Program because she saw the store was supporting The Children’s Literacy Foundation, an organization that promotes reading to low income children in Vermont and New Hampshire.  Josie immediately agreed as she saw this an extremely important program as well.  The Flying Pig now alternates their support of both organizations between Valentine’s Day and Easter each year.  A visitor to the Flying Pig quickly gets the impression  that reading and community are the top priorities for Josie – local authors are highlighted, community events promoted and the whole time I was browsing in the store, Josie was on the phone calling customers to let them know that the books they ordered had arrived.  The store is located at the center of Shelburne Village and it couldn’t be a more appropriate location.

The Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne

The Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne

The Storybook Program is run at CRCF by Lund volunteer, Laura Crain, who goes into the facility once a month to record the mothers reading.  My favorite part is talking with the moms about their children, hearing the love in their voices as they describe their children’s personalities and achievements.  I also really enjoy preparing these amazing voice recordings of the mothers reading the stories,” she says. 

This program could not happen without Laura’s work and without the generous donations from the Flying Pig Bookstore and their customers.  So please if you are in Shelburne, visit the bookstore and buy a book.  You’ll be helping an incarcerated mother, a child and a wonderful local business for years to come.

“To actually be able to send them a part of me, my voice reading them a story, as well as the gift of a book and personal message is such a blessing. I thank you all for this from the bottom of my heart. I can never tell you what joy this has brought me and my children.”    From a participant of the Storybook Program in the Alabama Department of Corrections.

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