With little possessions and almost nothing to call his own, a homeless man from Tarrant County clings to the joy in which his small collection of just four books gives him. When talking about his experience reading and re-reading the same few books time and time again, this man, Squirrel, lights up. Despite his love of reading, Squirrel only has a few books for a couple of reasons: It is hard for him to make a trip to the library where he is often times unwelcomed and it is smarter for him to use what little money he has for meals instead of books.
With the issue of homelessness in mind, Lucy Reason ’19 and Bryce Earley ’19 decided that they wanted to do something to get involved with the homeless community in Fort Worth. After Earley worked with an outreach team at JPS Hospital, her experience with Squirrel sparked her interest and thus The Open Book Project emerged with the goal to enhance the reading opportunities of the homeless population of Tarrant County.
“We started the Project because we are so passionate about helping the homeless community and we wish we could completely change their lives, but we are just high school students. By providing them with something as simple as books, however, they can be distracted and taken to a different place,” said Reason. “They can imagine they are traveling around the world. It’s one thing we can do to make their day easier.”
To begin this Project, they met with Dawn Zieger, the Community Outreach Director at JPS Hospital, who connected them with the architecture firm, Callison RTKL. Armed with experts, Earley and Reason designed a model for bookcases which will be displayed at homeless shelters in Tarrant County, including Union Gospel Mission, Presbyterian Night Shelter, Salvation Army and True Worth Place. One bookcase has already been put up at True Worth Place and it is highly successful. To expand this Project, the girls have created a club at school so that any All Saints’ community member can be a part of this opportunity to give homeless people in Fort Worth access to books. They have already collected over 700 books to fill the newly-designed book shelves at the homeless shelters.The girls have big plans for The Open Book Project and hope to continue its expansion. If you are interested in being a part of this impactful Project, donations of books are always acceptable and always needed.