Thanks to a small grant from BLI, we were able to purchase books and facilitate a book club at the Delonis Center, the main facility for the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County, which serves as a shelter for Ann Arbor’s homeless and housing infirm populations. Our first book, The Kite Runner, was an engaging and heartfelt read with lots of twists and turns. We had a small number of shelter clients at the weekly meetings, but this was to be expected given the challenges that come with housing instability. Those who were involved seemed to enjoy the reading and the weekly meetings, and it was helpful to discuss the book in-person, as there were a lot of characters and plot details, and we could resolve confusions by looking back on what we read and talking about it.
Some of the BLI habits that came into play on this project were Start Small and Start Where You Are. Being locally-based help us focus on the Washtenaw County community, and we started small with what was essentially a pilot program to see if there was any interest from clients to be involved in a book club. Another key habit was Value Difference, as we volunteers were oftentimes coming from different backgrounds than the clients. This helped inform the discussion we had about the books, as each person brought a unique take on what we read.
Although the book club will not continue in a formal process, we were able to partner with Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor to secure donations for two sets of new books to be donated to the Delonis Center. The first, A Mysterious Benedict Society, is a young adult mystery-thriller which follows a group of gifted children as they go on a secret adventure. The other, A Piece of Cake, is a truth-inspired memoir about addiction and a troubled upbringing. Five copies of each book will be donated to the Center for clients to read.
By: Ethan Hopper