The ongoing Vassar project for improving education, health, women’s economy, water purity, and forests in Chermaitre, Haiti, is described by the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the Vassar-Haiti Project, Lila Meade, and Vassar student Sarah Oliver. Andrew and Lila Meade founded the project in 2001, partly in a response to the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. Its original goal was simply a lunch project at a school in poverty-stricken Chermaitre, but it has evolved greatly. So far more than 350 Vassar students have been involved. The project has also attracted the attention and considerable help from the Poughkeepsie-Arlington Rotary Club. One of the major sources of funding is an annual art show and auction featuring work by native Haitian artists.
Authors Bryan Bunch (Millbrook Rotary), and Tim Tocher discuss the seventh annual Millbrook Literary Festival with co-hosts Jonah Triebwasser and Sara O’Connell. The Festival features several talks by journalists and authors as well as panel discussions on historical fiction, mysteries, cookbooks, journalism, history, and getting published. Books for younger readers featured include picture books and young-adult novels. Younger writers also have a chance to participate with their short works published in a special booklet distributed at the event. Some 50 authors will be part of the Festival, with all signing copies of their books. The Festival will take place on May 30, 2015 in the Millbrook Village at the Millbrook Library.
Pleasant Valley Library Director Daniela Pulice and Barbara Shapley, president of the Friends of the Pleasant Valley Library, discuss their local library, the Mid-Hudson Library System, of which it is a part, and the status of community libraries today. The Pleasant Valley Free Library is situated in a Dutchess County town of about 10,000 and is one of 21 libraries in the Mid-Hudson System. The Friends of the Library do fundraising, notably a giant book sale once or twice a year, to support such added library benefits as free tickets to the Children’s Museum, movie night, educational programs, signs, and computers. Today’s libraries are not quiet places, but instead are the central place in the community where people meet as well as where they borrow books, audio books, movies, e-book readers, and other materials and use computers, the library’s or free Wi-Fi. Circulation of all items has continued to increase in the 21st century.
Brewster Rotarian and 2015-16 Rotary District Literacy Chair Jenny Hinsman learned about buildOn from the best-selling book Walk in Their Shoes: Can One Person Change the World? (Jim Ziolkowski with James S. Hirsh) and has started her club working with Ziolkowski’s buildOn organization on its mission of breaking the cycles of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service and education. On this program she and buildOn Chapter Manager for the East Coast and Midwest Jenn Lishansky describe how buildOn works with urban youth in the U.S.A. to build schools throughout the areas of the world where illiteracy and poverty are endemic—Haiti, Mali, Nicaragua, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Malawi, and Nepal. Among other activities, buildOn has built 674 schools in these nations, schools that serve boys and girls equally, often along with their parents and grandparents.