No. 1060



When it comes to long-range and eternal consequences, the most rewarding thing I have ever been involved in is the Conway Bookcase Project. This is because children being reared in low-income families who learn to read because of our efforts will not only have a better chance at a life of success, but it may also save their lives. These children will hopefully have a better standard of living and rise above the culture of drugs, destruction and even death at an early age. Our project targets children in low-income families that have few, if any, books for their children to read. Without learning basic language skills before they enter kindergarten, these children are at a severe disadvantage in terms of getting a good education.
We began in 2005, and we build 50 quality, personalized bookcases each year with all volunteers in a truly community-wide project that is all “giving back.” No one associated with our project earns a penny in money for their help, but the intangible rewards are tremendous. We have had more than 5,000 of our citizens involved in the project in one way or another since we began, and this is by design. Since illiteracy impacts every single person, this effort must involve everyone in the community, as no single group or organization can accomplish this. They may raise money, build bookcases and give them to needy children, but they miss the awareness and involvement factor necessary to raise the level of literacy that is vital for good schools. Good schools in turn attract business, industry and good paying jobs.
This year we hosted our 12th annual Awards Ceremony at the Faulkner County Library. The program lasted less than an hour, but the program participants came from every area of our community. As chairman, I served as the Master of Ceremonies. We change the people on the program each year, but this year’s program featured a leading pastor who gave the invocation, presentation of the colors by the high school ROTC unit, Pledge of Allegiance by a member of our committee, and the welcome by the Faulkner County Judge.
The superintendent of the Conway School District introduced our speaker, who was the assistant principal of the Conway Junior High School. Next came the presentation of the bookcases to our Head Start pre-school children and their parents by a member of the Community Action Program for Central Arkansas (CAPCA) who is bilingual. Then I gave closing comments, mainly to thank everyone for their help in making our project so successful. This was followed by the Benediction by another pastor. The whole program lasts less than one hour, but involves leading citizens from all across our community. Note: CAPCA is the umbrella organization that has the Head Start children.
The only money necessary for our project is just to buy the wood and supplies to build the bookcases. This money is raised at our annual Fundraising Banquet in the fall, where we have a great turnout for a wonderful meal, quality local entertainment and a copy of the Founders book, “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.” We raise all the money we need at this one function, and some people give small non-tax deductible donations. The men who have built the bookcases for the past 11 years retired this past year, and another man who owns a cabinet shop with computerized saws and the equipment to assemble the bookcases has now volunteered. The bookcases this year, as always, are fantastic quality.
What is so exciting is that because the project is community-wide, every community has the resources to have their own project. Contact me at I would love to hear from you.
(Editor’s Note: Bookcase for Every Child – Changing Lives & Futures – ONE AT A TIME. Please visit our website: