On the 23rd of June, I ventured to the Midwestern town of Peoria, IL to First Federated Church. I entered a warehouse stocked with 33,000 books neatly organized for delivery to 14 Peoria schools . The warehouse space is donated to the literacy nonprofit, Look. It’s My Book!, winner of this year’s Central Illinois Volunteer Citizen of the Year award.
Founded by Janet Roth, Look. It’s My Book! strives to provide reading materials to the under-privileged children of Peoria. Volunteers to this great organization total about 250, and they are responsible for buying books in bulk, conducting inventory, organizing them by grade, packing them up for each school, delivering them to 14 schools six times a year, fundraising, grant writing, and much more. The nonprofit started making a difference in Central Illinois with a delivery to one school, but it has rapidly expanded in just six years, thanks to Janet Roth’s determination, passion, and uncanny ability to recruit volunteers.
The award event recognizing Janet was endearing, as many volunteers, including her husband (yes, he’s a volunteer too), commented on her ability to get folks to help – whether it be while “recruiting an exercise buddy” or bumping into people she never met previously. Many people who come into contact with Janet become volunteers, so jokingly I told her I was probably going to be moving to Peoria, but I just didn’t know it yet!
Research shows that rates for crime and violent crime are higher among the illiterate in the U.S., so Direct Energy made a $5,000 donation to this nonprofit, as it is so dedicated to helping children read, and therefore, excel academically.
Direct Energy graciously partnered with the Journal Star, the local Peoria newspaper, for the award program for the past two years. Newspaper representative Phil Jordan said a few words about the fantastic volunteer community that Peoria has, highlighted by people like Janet Roth.
This article was written by Andrea Romo, External Relations Specialist for Direct Energy.