New Chapters is a nonprofit committed to making books available to at-risk youth by creating and maintaining libraries in facilities where these kids and teens reside. Palmer Group is grateful for their outstanding service and has been overjoyed to support them in these endeavors.
Every November for the last few years we have helped New Chapters by having a Giving Tree in our office. Palmer Group employees create simple ornaments with book titles New Chapters would like to receive for their libraries. Our staff will then take the ornaments, purchase those books, and return them under the tree. This tradition is becoming a favorite amongst our staff.
I sat down with Stacie Palmer, the founder of New Chapters, to learn a little more about their services and how their story began.
How did the idea for New Chapters start?
The idea grew from my time volunteering at Youth Emergency Services and Shelters (YESS). I had been there for years volunteering in their classroom, but when summertime came, I did not want the kids to lose momentum on all the progress they had made throughout the school year. So, I asked if I could start a library and reading program, and they loved it! However, I started to hear about how some of the kids would get transferred to other shelters and youth homes, and they didn’t have the same resources. I wanted them to have the same opportunities. My friends and I started to get books for new libraries at other youth homes, but these locations also required renovations. We realized we needed to raise money to help meet these needs, and everything seemed to grow from there.
How many libraries do you have now? Did you imagine this type of growth?
I never imagined it would grow like this! We now have six libraries in four facilities. All the libraries have the same look (matching color schemes) and feel (same organization to the books). This is on purpose because we not only wanted to give the kids access to books but a familiar and welcoming place for them as well.
How did the Giving Tree start?
This idea came from two Palmer Group employees. I explained how we were opening three libraries that particular year, and they wanted to help fill those needs. They had the idea to create a tree full of book tag ornaments. Employees would simply take those ornaments and buy the specified books to contribute to New Chapters. This idea has blossomed, and other businesses have adopted this idea as well.
How do you pick books for the libraries?
We ask the kids. As we spend time with them at the libraries, we learn what they like and want to read more of. We are constantly having conversations and asking them their input. Sometimes they simply ask, “Can you show me a book of someone going through what I am going through?” We do our best to find those books, and the kids have returned and thanked us because those stories give them hope and a way to cope in their hard situations.
What are some of your most memorable stories?
Sadly, many of these kids are constantly in and out of the shelters, but they remember the library. They remember the books they have read and the conversations we’ve had together.
Comments from the kids leave such an impact on all of us. One kid told us, “These books are how I forget I am living in a shelter.” Several times, when kids have asked for specific books and we return with those requests in a week or two, they are astounded. They make comments like, “No one has ever done anything like this for me.”
In closing, do you have any advice for someone who wants to start their own nonprofit?
Creating a nonprofit will take a lot of your time and resources, and you can’t just do this on a whim. Make sure this is something you are passionate about, and you will stay committed all the way through.
New Chapters is making a lasting impact in our community. They are reminding these kids they are appreciated and valued while inviting them to dream about all the possibilities their future holds. If you would like to support New Chapters, please visit their website or contact us today with further questions. Stacie and her team of volunteers are certainly making lives better through their work, and we hope more people will join them.