June 18, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Turning a Page for Inner City Kids

Rebecca Constantino, founder of Access Books, has an interesting wish for her nonprofit organization: “What I would really like to do is close up shop.â€

Is she dissatisfied with the work? Disillusioned? Merely tired of it? Not at all. She simply imagines a future where the work Access Books does is no longer necessary. “It is my dream that the need for organizations like this ends,†she states.

She has an uphill battle.

Access Books provides children in low-income communities across Southern California with much-needed reading material. Run entirely by volunteers, the organization facilitates interaction between diverse groups. as children from more fortunate communities gather to donate their excess books to communities in need. The communities also band together to paint vibrant murals in run-down libraries in need of a makeover.

The urgency of the situation in Los Angeles’ inner-city schools cannot be over-emphasized. California currently ranks last in the nation in school library funding. The statistics are terrifying. The national average for school library funding is approximately $16.50 per student; in California, the average is 30 cents per student. Thirty percent of California schools have no librarian at all.

Although there is only so much that a nonprofit organization can do, Rebecca Constantino is determined to make a difference. She started in 1999 by delivering books out of the trunk of her car, and the organization has taken off in a way she could never have imagined. Access Books has now worked with more than 100 schools and provided more than 1.2 million books to Los Angeles classrooms and community libraries.

More important than statistics, however, is the human impact of the Organization. Rebecca tells the story of Johnny, who was known to his teachers as “all trouble, that kid.†Rebecca put him to work painting his school’s library, and later offered him a ride home from the event. She learned that he lived with his grandmother, he had never met his mother and that his father was in prison. He told her he felt like he was living in his own prison, and asked if he could come with her to paint more schools.

Over the next six weeks, Rebecca took Johnny to a number of Access Books events, sending him home with new books to read each week. After their last week together, Johnny’s grandmother asked to speak with Rebecca. Her account of the situation reveals the reason Access Books cannot be disbanded any time soon: “She put her hands on her hips and declared, ‘I don’t know what you done to this boy, but he changed. It used to be them other boys would come by so they could run wild in the streets and now he don’t go.’ As I was silent, she continued, ‘You know what he be doing?’ Before I could answer, she told me, ‘HE BE READING. He be up in his bed all day, reading.’â€

Rebecca, Johnny and his grandmother all shed tears that day. Books had opened up a new life for Johnny. That is the heart of Access Books – not a charitable impulse, but the desire to bring people from all walks of life together to share the joy of reading and to give children opportunities they never would have had otherwise. Rebecca emphasizes that Access Books is not “one group of people riding in on white horses to save another. The groups work together.â€

Access Books is always looking for volunteers. If you’re interested in volunteering at an event or simply in donating books, visit www.accessbooks.net or call (310) 284-3452.

in News
Related Posts

Toddler Fatally Struck by Relative’s RV at Dockweiler State Beach

June 17, 2024

June 17, 2024

2-Year-Old Child Lancaster Identified as Victim in Tragic Accident A toddler died Saturday after being struck by a relative who...

Texas Man Sentenced to 33 Months for Threatening U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters

June 17, 2024

June 17, 2024

Gaherty Targeted the Congresswoman With Racist and Violent Threats  A Texas man was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison...

LAUSD Considers Cell Phone Ban for Students During School Day

June 17, 2024

June 17, 2024

Some Parents Object Citing Safety Issues During a Crisis The Los Angeles Unified School District is considering a policy that...

Brentwood Beat: Giving Some Brentwood Thanks on the Fourth of July

June 17, 2024

June 17, 2024

As July 4th approaches, we should be thankful to live in America.   Sure, our country has its issues, but immigrants...

West Hollywood Resident Robbed at Gunpoint Near Sheriff’s Station After Pride

June 16, 2024

June 16, 2024

Victim Recounts Harrowing Early Morning Encounter in Rainbow District A West Hollywood resident and his friends were heading home in...

Michelin-Starred Chef James Kent Passes Away, Saga Hospitality Group Announces

June 16, 2024

June 16, 2024

Chef Kent Is Remembered for His Culinary Excellence and Charity Work The Saga Hospitality Group announced the death of Michelin-starred...

Film Review: Longlegs

June 16, 2024

June 16, 2024

LONGLEGS is pure poetic eldritch terror. From the very beginning, director Osgood Perkins uses the actors’ performances, cinematography, and even...

Two Men Arrested After Injuring Elderly Woman in Road Rage Incident at LAX

June 16, 2024

June 16, 2024

Violent Altercation Hospitalized Elderly Passenger  Los Angeles Police Department detectives from the Pacific-LAX Division have arrested two men involved in...

Judge Rules in Favor of Tenants in Historic West Los Angeles Eviction Case

June 16, 2024

June 16, 2024

Landlord’s Eviction Plan Under Ellis Act Rejected, Tenants Can Stay After a lengthy legal battle that spanned over a year,...

Marina del Rey Sportfishing: A Great Day on the Water

June 14, 2024

June 14, 2024

Fishing is a pastime like no other. You can experience the nostalgia of that pastime in real time at Marina...

University of Miami President to Replace Gene Block Amid Controversy

June 14, 2024

June 14, 2024

Julio Frenk Named New UCLA Chancellor at UC Regents Meeting The search for a new chancellor at UCLA is over....

Culver City Police Collaborate with VA and LASD to Aid Unhoused Veteran

June 14, 2024

June 14, 2024

Joint Efforts Lead to Successful Assistance for a Veteran in Need The Culver City Police Mental Evaluation Team collaborated with...

West Hollywood Kicks Off WeHo Pride Arts Festival This Weekend

June 14, 2024

June 14, 2024

Celebration Features Diverse LGBTQ+ Events From June 14-16 Each year, the City of West Hollywood celebrates the artistic contributions of...

30th Anniversary of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman Murders Commemorated with Virtual Vigil

June 13, 2024

June 13, 2024

Family Honors Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in Virtual Candlelight Vigil This week marks the 30th anniversary of the...

Culver City PRCS Hosts Summer Splash Kick-Off Event

June 13, 2024

June 13, 2024

Join PRCS for Fun-Filled Recreational Swim Activities The Parks, Recreation, and Community Services (PRCS) department of Culver City is gearing...