For the past four years, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s Outreach Department has partnered with Goodwill to create a learning environment that is customer-focused and committed to providing opportunities for personal success in reading and learning. As an Outreach Specialist, I have enjoyed the privilege of enriching the lives of people in need by helping them reach their full potential through learning.
I often work with Goodwill’s Operation Independence staff in helping coordinate special events for displaced vets and their families. You can imagine how thrilled I was at one of these events to encounter a disabled vet who had written a children’s book about a sock that had gotten displaced in the cycle of life and happily found his mate. Literacy and workforce development have been a driving factor for me in providing disabled veterans with library resources.
A few years ago I was charged with developing a program that would teach some Goodwill clients, many of whom had intellectual disabilities, how to illustrate children’s books. I gathered up some picture books, passed them out to the students and they became so excited with the possibility of someday fulfilling their dreams. From there, I gave them assignments of creating mini picture books, complete with their own illustrations. Another local organization got involved in the process by matting and framing the artworks created by the clients. Today, the art pieces are sold annually at an art show and the clients receive a profit from their creations.
My most memorable experience has been witnessing the clients’ commitments to artistry as they work through barriers and find solutions to fulfill their dreams. Having an undergraduate degree in Art Design myself, I, just like these clients, have had visions of someday creating children’s book illustrations. Partnering with Goodwill has given my life so much purpose and joy.
Goodwill and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library share common visions of providing opportunities for personal success for everyone, including persons in need. As a result, families and our communities are enriched.
Dot Siler is an Outreach Specialist at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. For more information on volunteering at Goodwill, check out our available opportunities or contact Community Engagement Manager Kilby Watson at (704) 332-0316 or email@example.com.