By Caitlin Rossi and Jaclyn Seebsitt
A few weeks ago, the Silver Spring Medical Center delivered books from a book drive to benefit more than 100 second grade students at Galway Elementary School in Calverton, Maryland. In conjunction with the Community Benefit department, employees and physicians at the Silver Spring center, and throughout the region, donated books for the elementary school’s ‘book tree’ last fall. The book tree was developed with the help of Laura Howard, Community Benefit Program Coordinator, and Karen Mills, Silver Spring Medical Center Employee Health Nurse. The Galway second grade teachers cut out leaves and helped each of their students choose 2 books they wanted to wish for and wrote them on each leaf. Then, the book trees were placed near the Silver Spring staff lounge and also by the pharmacy, where many staff passed by on a daily basis. The Silver Spring staff began taking one leaf at a time; some even took 2 or 3, and purchased not just one, but both books each student requested and dropped off the donations in Karen’s office.
In addition to the health plan staff, many physicians also donated books and one physician, wrote out a check for $300 to purchase books for the students. With the holidays and subsequent blizzard this past winter, the team worked hard to collect donations, order books for those still needing them, and organize a bag for each student. Galway has seven second grade classes with a total of about 115 students.
The first week of March, to align with National Reading Month and “Read Across America”, approximately 5 of the Community Service team members, along with John Broesamle, Silver Spring Medical Center Administrative Manager, Karen, and Laura met at the school and accompanied the principal and vice principal to each 2nd grade classroom to distribute the students’ books.
“It was just an amazing experience and one that is truly hard to describe, to witness the students’ faces and excitement as they received their books,” Karen said. “We agreed as a team, both our KP Community Service team, as well as the team at Galway Elementary School, that this was an experience we will always remember and cherish.”
Several weeks later, some of the team returned to Galway Elementary to participate in Career Day, and they were presented with a huge folder of thank you notes, from each and every one of the second grade students. A bulletin board was displayed in the staff lounge at our medical center for all the staff to see how happy these students were with the donations they made.
The books that our employees and physicians donated made a visible impact on students at the elementary school. The principal of the school shared a moving story about how Kaiser Permanente’s ‘book tree’ has helped one student find his passion for reading.
“As we finished distributing the books to each classroom there was one student who came up and said he didn’t receive the book(s) he requested. There were a few books leftover, so we allowed the student to select two additional books. From that point on, the student, who did not love to read, was so thrilled that he was able to choose his books, that he has begun to ‘take off’ with reading and now loves to read!”
The student’s teacher said that he carries his books with him everywhere and is even caught reading while walking in line from one classroom to the next.
Kaiser Permanente has truly made a difference in this student’s life, and because of the book drive, the student is motivated and excited to read. Check out more photos from the book tree event below.