By Mickey Gomez, Chair of the Friends & Foundation of Howard County Library System
Today, the Howard County Library System and Howard County Government hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony launching the addition of a new Pop-up Library van to the "On the Road to Kindergarten" program, and as the Chair of the Friends and Foundation of the HCLS, I had the honor of saying a few words about our support for this great program.
Here's what I said:
"When Tonya (Aikens, President & CEO of the HCLS) approached us about supporting the Library’s application for the Rise to the Challenge Grant, we eagerly said, “Yes!” and immediately began thinking of other ways we could support this incredible new service for our community.
In a county where we celebrate our national rankings, we also have an increasing number of neighbors who are asset limited, income constrained, and employed. According to the Association of Community Services’ FY 2020 Self-Sufficiency Indicator Report, the number of households living below the poverty level in Howard County has increased 14 percent since 2012. Twenty percent of Howard County’s families earn less than $75,000 a year. And an estimated 5.5 percent of children under 18 were living in households below the poverty level.
And as Tonya noted, this impacts how families are able to support their children. Studies have shown that children from low socioeconomic neighborhoods have less access to reading material at home when compared to children in more affluent neighborhoods.
When this new On the Road to Kindergarten PopUp Library comes to ALICE (assuming ALICE has already been defined?) communities, Library instructors will prepare young children for kindergarten by teaching social foundations, language, literacy, and mathematics. The Library’s team will help parents and caregivers select developmentally appropriate books, toys, and media to support their children’s learning at home.
All of this ... is why the Friends & Foundation of HCLS has been raising money to support this new mobile unit - so together, we can create new outcomes for our friends and neighbors in Howard County. I'm honored to be here today to invite you to join us ... so we can continue supporting the collections and materials inside, and, so we can collectively ensure that this incredible new effort grows and thrives!"
Contributions through the Friends & Foundation site (www.friendsHCLS.org) will continue to fund books and supplies supporting the educational and social-emotional development of our youngest residents.