By Jeni Pierce, Johnson Service Corps Member and Book Harvest intern
February marks my 6th month as a part of the Book Harvest Team, and is the halfway mark for my year of service in the Corps! In celebration of such a milestone, and in the spirit of the season of love, I would like to share the most heartwarming aspects of working with Book Harvest thus far. As an intern in the nonprofit world, I’ve had the joy in working with volunteers, the Durham Housing Authority and Book Harvest Staff, which has given me glimpses of the sincerity and drive of our community and team.
Working with volunteers is always the most humbling and rewarding experience of my activities with Book Harvest. I’m consistently amazed by the hearts of the individuals, families, and organizations that pour their time and effort into this mission. A great example of our partnership with the community is our open book sorts that draw young and old, experienced volunteers and new, and include groups from backgrounds as varied as librarianship to engineering. At our February 10th open book sort this year, we had nearly 50 people packed into our office space to help us sort the 1000s of books in our unsorted pile. It is amazing to see people of a rainbow of backgrounds and experience make space for one another, teach each other, and serve together to make work light and meaningful.
I’ve also had the great privilege of serving the Durham Housing Authority by showing up at a few of the afterschool programs that run for the community’s children. While the DHA faces many heartbreaking challenges in keeping programs available and running, there is no lack of compassion on the part of the staff of these programs. I have witnessed personnel at these sites attempt to bring in programs that not only bring fun and learning to it’s participants, but that address the struggles faced by children living with limited means and support, and that aim to share a sense of mindfulness and pride with them. Rather than simply heartwarming, I’ve found working with these programs to be humbling and eye-opening, and I hope to see more Durham resources pool together to help DHA programing.
My favorite part of working at Book Harvest is definitely getting to work alongside the staff! I feel like at this stage of my work, I am able to let everyone who hasn’t had a chance to get to personally know the staff behind Book Harvest’s work and programs in on a little secret: Book Harvest’s mission is not just a job to them, it’s their calling. I’m starting to believe that everyone in the office lives and breathes Book Harvest! This team fully immerses themselves in anything that can grow their knowledge about empowering people and meeting the needs of the community– especially children and parents. Relevant documentary showings, community meetings, school meetings, conferences– the staff here makes a conscious effort to be as much a part of the social justice scene as they can. The most powerful part of my experience so far has been being a part of team that truly believes in what they’re fighting for.