About Reading Reflections

Reading Reflections was founded in memory of our grandparents, Edith and Morris Mendelsohn. Our grandparents were teachers who dedicated their lives to the education of their children, grandchildren and children of their communities. It is they who inspired our feeling for the importance of education and our passion for reading.

The project began with the collection of used children's books for a new local preschool. Then, a dear family friend who is Guyanese sustained a devastating loss: her nephew, a twenty-two year old police detective, was brutally murdered. Our friend had been spearheading a campaign to found a school library that was in dire need of educational materials. To honor this young detective's memory, we dedicated our time and effort to creating a library that would provide a wealth of educational resources for the children of the Al-Madinah Islamic Academy. When it became apparent that many texts would be needed to start an adequate library, we again approached neighbors and family friends about our endeavor. They eagerly contributed new and gently used books for this cause; math and reading textbooks, and children's classic novels were all included in the growing collection. After we amassed several hundred books, arrangements were made for them to be sent to Guyana via a Guyanese shipping company that readily agreed to provide services for a discounted rate. It was immensely rewarding to contribute towards the educational development of children in another country.

We received so many books that we had to look for places locally that could use the surplus. When we saw the tremendous need for books both locally and in impoverished areas globally, we continued to request book donations so that we could help as many as people as possible. We discovered local groups such as the Nassau County Department of Health and Human Services that has a Welcome Center where public health and special services for women, children, veterans and individuals with physical and mental challenges receive aid. More than 1,000 people walk through its doors every day. Children who visit the center often have not owned a book in their lives and it is heartwarming to see the expressions on parents' faces when they are able to give their children this precious gift. We partnered with Head Start and early childhood development programs throughout the region to ensure that children are provided with books beginning at a young age and with youth outreach programs to make sure that they continued to have books of their own books during their elementary school years.

As our project progressed, we began to enlist the help of our community. With the assistance of local school drives, bookstores and publishers our book collection continued t grow. Our initial collection of books tripled, and then tripled again, until our garages were stacked to the ceiling with thousands of books. As more shipments arrived, our infatuation with the effort grew. To date, we have donated thousands of books to the Nassau Health and Human Services Welcome Center. We have reached out to the Town of Hempstead, where Town Supervisor Kate Murray helped us to deliver a truckload of books to Gateway Youth Outreach, a non-profit community-based organization dedicated to offering services to youth at risk. There are currently 600 children who benefit from this daily after-school enrichment and counseling program. When natural disaster hit, we helped restock classroom and community libraries that were destroyed in Hurricane Sandy.

It is a sacrifice for donors to part with their books and some are almost too precious to donate. But those books are soon cherished by their new guardians, such as the children at the Henry Schein Back-to School carnival or in regions in Ethiopia where even teachers do not own their own books. What started as a series of small projects has grown into a mission to do our part to pass on our love for reading and writing to future generations. In our endeavor to put books in the hands of children who desperately need and want them, we have been amazed at the generosity of hundreds of our friends, local bookstores and publishers. We look forward to many rewarding years as our organization continues to grow and thrive.