Read. Share. Love. This is the tagline for The Junior League of Tampa’s Giving Library initiative. Partnering with other nonprofits, the League builds and stocks small libraries across Hillsborough County to share the love of reading. But unlike traditional libraries, the Giving Library books do not need to be returned, empowering readers to build their own home libraries.
One nonprofit partner of the Giving Library program is Tampa Family Health Centers (TFHC). With 16 locations, TFHC provides quality, affordable healthcare to residents in Hillsborough County. While a health center does not immediately seem like a natural partner for a literacy program, together we have distributed more than 5,000 books to readers in our community. Recently we sat down with JLT member and TFHC staff member Melissa Garitta to talk about the partnership.
How did your organization get involved with the Giving Library initiative?
Tampa Family Health Centers got involved with the Giving Libraries as we had two employees within TFHC as members of The Junior League of Tampa. We took this idea to our Director of Pediatrics and she was thrilled to provide books to our patients. Our Director of Pediatrics has a passion for literacy and we thought we could bring this resource to our patients and give them an opportunity to take books home and start a library of their own!
Describe your experience partnering with JLT.
JLT as an organization is so wonderful for our community! But our experience with the MILO team and the Giving Libraries initiative specifically has been amazing! To see our pediatric patients searching for their favorite book or finding a new one to read while waiting to be seen has been great! The process and inventory have been excellent from the libraries being built and the books being delivered. We have received such positive feedback from our patients, and they really enjoy having these books at their disposal.
What value does the Giving Library provide to your patients?
Empowering our pediatric patients to pick books of their own to keep and create a library at home gives them something that’s theirs and gives them the resources to elevate their literacy. Some of our patients might not have the resources to go to the library or buy brand new books, so this gives them an opportunity to take something home with them that they might have been able to do normally. These books might give our patients a way to remain calm and relaxed while visiting our medical offices, because who likes to see the doctor or dentist? I believe these libraries are more than just taking a book home; we’re inspiring a new generation of readers.
How does the Giving Library program help you further your mission?
At TFHC, it’s our mission to provide quality, caring, and accessible healthcare to a culturally diverse community. I know our mission speaks to healthcare, but healthcare is so much more than visiting the doctor when you’re sick. Reading and developing their minds at a young age can help them in the long run and hopefully, in return, will increase their overall health and wellness.
You can find Giving Libraries at the following Tampa Family Health Center locations: