Episode 5 - Making children's lives brighter one book at a time

Episode 5 - Making children's lives brighter one book at a time

This episode features¬†Leslie Gang on the Ready.Set.Glo! Podcast ūüíę

In this episode, we're meeting with Leslie from Hindi’s Libraries!

Leslie Gang is a mother of 2, born and raised in Long Island NY. She currently works as the Director of Communications and Admissions at The Brandeis School, a private K-8 school in Lawrence, NY where her children currently attend.

She is the co-founder of Hindi’s Libraries, an international literacy nonprofit formed in memory of a teacher (and mother of 5) who passed away suddenly at the age of 32. The organization collects new and gently used children’s books and donates them all over the world at NO COST to families in need. Since the organization’s inception, they have collected more than 300,000 books and partnered with more than 650 nonprofits across all 50 states, Israel, India, Africa, Haiti, and Puerto Rico.

She is also the author of a short rhyming picture book entitled "But Family is Forever." This book, published by Pen It Publications, reminds readers about the importance of family while displaying various and diverse family dynamics representing all sorts of families. 'But Family is Forever' is available on Amazon and 50% of the proceeds go to Hindi's Libraries. 

Leslie is here to say that the power to make an impact is EASY.  Every small act of kindness matters is appreciated, recognized, and causes a ripple effect. Everyone can change the world.

We'd love for you to support this effort, even if it's simply sharing this information with a friend or coworker.

 

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Hindi's Libraries: Making Children's Lives Brighter One Book at a Time

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Transcript

Mary Harcourt  0:04  
Welcome to Ready Set glow, a podcast where I interview the person behind the brand. We're gonna talk about what it took to get started, the lessons learned along the way, and the advice they have for you on your own journey. I'm your host, Mary Harcourt, founder and CEO of Cosmo globe. Today we're meeting with Lesley of Handys libraries. This is a nonprofit organization that collects books from all over the country and gives them to children of all ages, infants all the way up to high school age. Over the past few years, Handys Library's have donated more than 275,000 children's books, they've come together to form a pretty unique company structure. This helps get those books off the shelves of kids leaving to college and into the hands of children that are eager to read and learn about the world. Andy's library was started as a tribute to an amazing woman with a shining light in the community, a literacy teacher, and soon to be literacy coordinator, a wife and a mom of five, including triplets, hindi passed away unexpectedly due to complications of Crohn's disease, leaving behind her husband and five children. When a tragic loss happens to a family, the future can be a little uncertain to say the least. Handys family is doing great now. And her name lives on a beautiful way all around the world through Handys libraries. Lesley, thanks for joining us today. It's great to have you here.

Leslie Gang  1:32  
Thank you for having me on. So I am the co founder of Hindi libraries, which was established in memory of Dr. Hindi Krinsky. I was the director of PR and communications at a private school in Long Island. And Hindi. Krinsky was a parent of the school, she had four children enrolled in the school and a baby. She was also a high school English teacher, I always describe her as if you ever saw Dangerous Minds, she was that Michelle Pfeiffer who got all the kids who hated school and wasn't weren't interested. She got them interested in Shakespeare and writing. And they just were drawn to her. And I developed a relationship with her very much on a superficial level of colleagues where I kind of knew going in to my role that if you want to recruit students for the school, they must at some point along their recruitment journey, meet Hindi because she will sell the school for them, because she is fabulous. her children, her eldest who are triplets, were known as the little kindergarten kids were reading Harry Potter. This was just a very special family in the community. In the summer of 2018, I received a phone call from her husband, David, that she very suddenly passed away from a complication of Crohn's disease, the community froze. I mean, when I made the calls to the head of school and Executive Director, there was, you know, silence on the phone. She was 32, she was fine. She was just working on her curriculum for the following school year, which was right around the corner. Basically, my role in the school, being the middleman between parents, teachers, community members, I basically was receiving all the messages from community members, we want to give free backpacks, I want to help pay for lunch, I want to give free after school programs. So I organize this list. And I sent it to David. And through this communication, I basically became very friendly with David simply because we were talking every day with this is how we can help today. And this is what we'd like to offer today. And so and so called me and wants to provide XYZ, so we became very friendly. And as school started, one of the principals asked me for my opinion regarding a project on campus that would be appropriate and meaningful to him, these children's specifically the elders tour in third grade. So we decided to build on campus, a little free library box, which is you know, you've seen them everywhere, those little boxes on the corners outside of schools, where people give a book, take a book. So we sent our custodian to Home Depot. Bill, he built a box, we had a friend who is a painter by trade, meet with David learn about Hindi and paint this beautiful box with concepts and illustrations that embodied who candy was and what she loved. Now for the opening ceremony of this, which took place a few months later, right after Thanksgiving time, we asked every child in the grade to bring one gently used book to fill the box. So everybody feels that they're a part of this tribute. And the ceremony was lovely. The day ended and it was great. A few weeks later, I get a call from the principal. And it went along the lines of Hi, why are there 500 books in my office and I can't move. And I said, I really don't know. I'm sorry. I'll pick them up. I don't know. We didn't tell them to drop off books. So the game of telephone broken telephone in this case kind of happened where we asked the kids for one book agent parents took this to mean these two people are now Taking books, we can get rid of our books. So we took the books home, David and I, we put a nice sticker on them, we donated them to a few local nonprofits within like the five mile 10 mile range, a local food pantry, a local homeless shelter, a church. And while we're getting rid of these, we come home and there are more books on our doorsteps and phone calls and texts and emails. So we took a step back and we kind of said, Okay, what's going on here, we realize there is this unfilled niche of parents have established a connection to these books, because it's the book they read in bed. It's the book they read, when they were nursing, it's the book they read, when the kids were eating breakfast. Now their kids are 2015. And the books are sitting in their, in their basement in their attic. Because they're meaningful to them, and they can't throw them out. And now here we come. unbeknownst to us, they've established us as now, this is where we are giving books. And we said, Okay, we're just going to, I guess, take them and find places to donate them. Fast forward from this initial story to where we are now, back to kind of how I started. I am the co founder of Indies libraries, which is now an international nonprofit, we've shipped almost 300,000 books all over the world were in all 50 states were in India, Israel, Africa, Haiti, Puerto Rico, if there's a way to get them overseas, we'll get them there. If there's someone in the states that needs them, we'll ship them there, we pay for all shipping. And our goal is to continue his legacy, while providing reading material to children who otherwise may not be able to afford them.

Mary Harcourt  6:30  
Areas such a beautiful summary, it's so amazing that she has children that they're gonna grow up and be able to keep the memory of their mother as well as she's doing so much good. I mean, these kids are getting books all over the world. And I totally agree, we all have books in our house that the kids are grown, but you still don't want to get rid of I mean, it's almost like sacrilegious to throw a book out right? Like you, you just leave it on the shelf, because you don't want to throw it out. But you don't really think you're ever going to open it again. And so it is such a beautiful hole where it's like, hey, you know what, this is a great thing. I can take that book and it can go on and the book can live on the legacy can live on. And you can help kids in need, which is so beautiful. I mean, books are great books, every child should have access to books. And it is sad when kids don't have the measurements of anything left over to go and buy books. And you guys come in and supply that is a wonderful, wonderful mission. Did you always have a hand in nonprofits? Is this your first one.

Leslie Gang  7:28  
So I kind of grew up from a very interesting family, my parents, I'm the first person in my family born in America, my family immigrated from Russia. So I was kind of always taught money is just paper, it doesn't mean anything. It's important to how kind you are and what you make of yourself and give back. So in high school, I was involved in small community initiatives. In college, I was actually the leader of a chapter of an organization where children who are infected or affected by HIV AIDS go to summer camp for free. And I was the chapter leader to create fundraisers and raise awareness through that. And I realized I'm doing what I love, but for other people, and it's amazing to see, and a little bit of the background, and I've worked in nonprofit, I've worked in the school private school setting for almost 1617 years. And so this is kind of everything I love to do, I don't need to report to a higher up, it's just David and myself. It's been wonderful. I've had the practice, and this is still trial and error to this day, I'll start an idea or an initiative, and it may not work right away or work at all. But that's the fun in it, you're doing it for a good cause. So it gives me that fire to try again, and figure a different way out. So it's been really amazing to grow in such a way.

Mary Harcourt  8:44  
I mean, I love that it's fulfilling for you and a challenge. And just like anything else, I mean, things people see the end result and just think it's locked, like, oh, they just got lucky. What they don't see is all the struggle in the process of what works, what didn't work, getting yourself back up and going. Okay, well, that one, that one didn't work. But let me try this. And all this isn't that pays off. Or it's like, oh my god, it's so cool. That worked. And you grow this amazing thing that came from an idea and a bunch of failures, honestly, and what worked and what didn't work, you stay on that path. And you guys, I mean, it's so impressive that you distribute off the stage. You've been all over the world and up to 300,000 books. That's a lot of books. And it's also like so many kids you've helped. How do you find places that are in need of book donations? Do they contact you? Do you contact them? Is it both?

Leslie Gang  9:31  
That's a great question. So in the beginning, we had to do a lot of the outreach we started with in Long Island, we'll just drive and give them away. And then we said okay, people in New York could probably pick them up from us. And then we got inquiries from New Jersey and Connecticut. And I swear to you, I call David and I said, we're doing all 50 states now. I was like What do you mean, I'm like, I'm done. I'm doing research. I spent the next three weeks looking on Google for Nonprofits. I made a spreadsheet of every state and I said we're hitting everywhere. We're already in Connecticut in New York, New Jersey. jersey. Let's do it and do it right. So we got a map, I had like a corkboard map. And every time a state responded that their nonprofit could benefit from books, I put a pin in the map, and there was still do me active reach out. Now, you know, almost four years later, I don't really have to do that either the nonprofit from way back when will reach out again, or I'll send a follow up. Do you guys still need books, we're here we have an inventory large inventory, we have a bit of a presence. And we have a lot of relationships all throughout the country. So someone is always tagging us. And I'll give you a very recent example, there was the marshal fire in Boulder, Colorado four or five weeks ago, and a lot of families were affected and displaced and had to evacuate in their homes burned. And I wake up to like pings and tags of this family lost books that family lost books. And within 48 hours, I had partnered with a Girl Scout troop in Boulder, and we shipped them about six or seven large boxes of books that they then brought to the I guess the location where anyone who was displaced was staying temporarily. So I'm getting now pictures were these were the books you gave. It's lovely that people know that we exist. Still, sometimes I'll see an article and my friend will send me an article last year, there was an article about a doctor who is giving away new books to his patients and reading to his terminally ill, pediatric patients. Again, we got we reached out to the pediatric wing and we sent them new books that we had from Barnes and Noble. So it's all about that networking now. It's kind of coming from all angles, which is awesome.

Mary Harcourt  11:26  
Yeah, I love that. I mean, it really does. And then you've mentioned that you even work with news channels and influencers, bloggers to get the name out. And really it is connecting the dots and building that bigger network. Like I can't wait to see where you go from here. Oh, I

Leslie Gang  11:40  
hope we go for. That's that's the goal.

Mary Harcourt  11:42  
Um, so what's the most rewarding part?

Leslie Gang  11:45  
We recently in December did a book giveaway event in partnership with a children's author right in the Bronx in New York, we brought two SUVs full of books every seat except the driver's seat, and a minivan. So imagine everything is full of boxes and cartons and bins, probably I estimate about four to 5000 books, we distributed them to these children, the school has 400 and change children, all of them receive free hot lunch, which is something that they provides if they can't financially afford food. The librarian told me over 100 of the children were in temporary housing. Out of the four, we did this wonderful event and you first of all, you feel this positive energy in this school. But then the most rewarding part is I'm still getting photos and letters from these students that she is texting me, saying, Dear indies, Oh, bless you and your friends and your family for giving us a book. This is one of the only books I have in my home, I read it to my little brother, this has made our week Happy New Year, much love. And this is from a nine year old. So to see that mature grasp of I can't otherwise have this, that breaks your heart, right. But then you have the part where they see how important it is and how special it is that they're able to have a book. So understand that they can get these gifts, cherish them, share them with loved ones. That's the point that these books just keep traveling from hand to hand over the generations.

Mary Harcourt  13:09  
I mean, it's such a beautiful thing that they do keep traveling and they go to new families. That's so rewarding and fulfilling for you like I feel your energy in that I know this is so important in such a big part of your life. You also have kids, so what do you hope that they gain from watching you do this,

Leslie Gang  13:27  
I want them to know that a not everything is instant gratification. You know, you could Uber something and in five minutes, it's around the corner Instacart you press Send and it's an email is sent. There's no wait time and some things are worth waiting for. Take time to build. This nonprofit took a very long time to create. And to get where we are, it was a lot of work a lot of sweat and tears paper cuts from the books. So and I want to see this is what's worth it. And also that you have to stick to something to make it what you want. But most importantly, and I tell this to even a volunteer, you have the power to make a difference. You don't always need to have a blank check with you. You don't always need to have the connections to the power players. It's that willpower to do something good. And it's so worthwhile and someone who texts me and says I dropped off a shopping bag of books at your door on my way to go food shopping. So in their head, they did nothing. They had these books, took a bag from Target tight it drops it up my door, which is two blocks away from the local Stop and Shop. They did nothing right. They're just like alright, dropped off books, they text me. But think about what they just did. Right? They just started the cycle of now getting those books to children who don't have any other reading material. That's what it takes to make a difference taking that tiny step to do good and I want my kids to see that.

Mary Harcourt  14:47  
And I'm sure they do. I mean you're right. It is starting the cycle and it is so easy just to collect all the books in your house or some of them and take them deliver them somewhere but it really does start the cycle and for a child you You're giving them something they wouldn't otherwise have. And who knows what they're going to read in that book, if I get a lot of inspiration from from books, in fact, usually when I'm in a stagnant mentality where I just feel, either in burnout or stressed out, I realized it's because I haven't learned anything lately, and picking up a book for me gets me out of that slump, where it's like, Oh, my God, I just stopped learning, I stopped growing as an individual, as a human as a person. And that book becomes so addicting to me, because it's like, well, now I want to read what else is in here, I already learned so much it, I already feel so much better. I'm starting my mornings easier. I'm reading every night now. And I can only imagine for these kids like the information they're reading, whether it's opening their creative rate, creativity, or critical try that again, whether it's opening their creative brain, or allowing them to be more imagination based, or letting their minds just wander with some story. Or maybe it's a true story, maybe they're getting inspired is so cool, because that was someone that just decided to get rid of some books and drop them off. If you're really truly changing lives, and each person can do that. Exactly. And then you're completely volunteer base, right?

Leslie Gang  16:10  
We are completely volunteer base. The good news is because we don't have staff, every dollar we raise goes to either ship the books, store the books, or label the books. The bad news is we're completely volunteer based. So if someone's not available, they're not available, because they're busy, you have to find people who are passionate to be a part of this, I have been working with some college interns and internship programs and giving credit to some students who are looking to grow in the marketing field, the social media marketing, anything that could benefit us to support us is wonderful. But it is it's not easy. You know, there are plenty of things we can one day accomplish if and when we get funding to get staff who are paid to be there and do their you know, work. But like you said, I have a full time job other than this, David as a full time job, the volunteers, whether they are the volunteers running a book drive, sorting the books, packaging, the books, they're doing this when they have the time. So it's up to me and David to kind of make sure we always have our ducks in a row and the support we need. So there'll be ebb and flows where there might be a month or two where nothing happens in terms of book shipments, because it's cold, or it's summer vacation and volunteers are away. So then we get in a groove. And recently, thank goodness, we've been in a wonderful group, I have volunteers ticking books every day. And I have right now hundreds of books in my garage that I can package and ship out within the next week. So it has its pros and cons because unlike people who clock in and clock out, this is their job. They're here because they want to be here. So you have a passion there with volunteers, you know, they're doing something because for whatever reason, it connects with them. And they're eager to help.

Mary Harcourt  17:48  
Yeah, and they're getting something out of it, too. They're, they're being fulfilled because you're everyone loves to help everyone. I've never met a person that truly loves to not help. And you know, there's some bad apples in there. But like for the most part as a human being, it feels good to help others. And I love how you orchestrate the volunteers. And that can also help with marketing, networking, and who knows what skills or talents they're going to pick up while they were there seen how a nonprofit is ran? It's everything you do in life teaches you something. So I think that's really cool. How many hours a week you have a full time job. So it is David, how many hours a week would you say that you put in keeping this all going?

Leslie Gang  18:26  
I would say somewhere around 30 to 40 hours. Whoa,

Unknown Speaker  18:31  
and you have a full time job and you have

Mary Harcourt  18:33  
kids

Leslie Gang  18:34  
I know. I mean, I really try to balance it. And I try very hard not to have it interfere during work hours. I'm very type A and I'm very organized. So my full time job is my job. This is my passion, I need to keep those two separate. Sometimes I've been lucky enough to bring the two together where the students at the school I work at volunteer for the nonprofit in some way. That's really great. But typically, my kids are still little my youngest, my oldest is nine. So eight o'clock, I might have that fourth cup of coffee and go on for the night. And I wake up a little early. So if there's anything I can do from my bed or quietly sneak out onto my computer, I might knock out a couple hours in the morning and weekends I have more time so the physical labor will take place more on the weekends in terms of packaging those books and networking posting, contacting calling emailing that will take place all night every night.

Mary Harcourt  19:24  
Wow. And then so right now you your your guys are like single man shows you're just making it all happen, which is beautiful. But where do you see this going? Like where if everything were to work out? What's your vision for where this could be? So

Leslie Gang  19:40  
so this is our vision for me and David Basically, first of all, we'd like to have at least one or two staff members would be lovely. So we can send them like a task list to do this. And we can check out for a little bit that would be super helpful. But what I really would love to see is a Hindi libraries chapter I guess we can call it in every country so that we can train them to do exactly what we do overseas, let's say Ireland has a chapter, we train them, we have funding so that when someone in Ireland reaches out to that chapter for book donations, they have the exact same methodology, the same volunteering, the same type of service groups, getting them book donations in bulk, and the same type of shipping and method, I kinda have it all very streamlined in theory, right? It's very easy to assign that to somebody, it's just the funding of it, because I don't really think anyone else would want to volunteer 30 to 40 hours a week, on top of a full time job to make it happen overseas. But if you're international, and you're listening, and you want to take this on, I will happily guide you. But that's my vision that, you know, we can really get books overseas at a much easier method than me having to find someone who's traveling that wants to either fill up three suitcases, or they have a ship going to wherever that destination is. And I have to get it in time to the partner within the US so they could put it on the ship and on the load.

Unknown Speaker  21:01  
I mean, look, I

Mary Harcourt  21:02  
Those are huge goals. And I really hope you reach them. I think you guys have a great thing going and it's possible, what are the ways we can

Leslie Gang  21:08  
help. So there are several ways we always look for a partnership. The first thing is, feel free to set up a book drive. Now you may say, Well, I don't live in New York. So I can't do that completely not true. We have recipients all over the country, as I mentioned, and chances are I already have someone in my database who can drive to you. Otherwise, let's work together to find someone that can benefit from you. I will guide you, I will send you our dedication stickers, I will train you on how to decide which books you receive are good, which you can pay, you know book, we call it Book It Forward. So which books you can donate. And that's great. Whether you're an individual with a business or a mom who wants to do something good, or a Girl Scout troop leader, we worked with all sorts of, you know, volunteer drive coordinators, that's the first if you're remote and you have you've listened to this and you feel you have tools you can give and talents and skills and you'd like to volunteer with us remotely, we'll take it we need it. Whether you're in the media realm, or you're in the marketing realm or you're in the fundraising realm grant writing, we need the support. That's how we you know, kind of roll. Of course, there is the option of doing fundraisers whether you're you'd like to do a Facebook fundraiser and just tag us and make us the beneficiary. Whether you'd like to contribute privately to help us ship our boxes, we pay for all shipping, and every box to ship cost somewhere around 20 to $25. And just for frame of reference, we've shipped about 2300 boxes already. So that's a lot of money for shipping. So we'd love that we have options where you as a business or as a family can sponsor a box, it's on our website. And that box will then get a beautiful sticker on the outside that says this box has been sponsored by, you know, Lesley, gang and family. The other option is if you don't want to run a book drive, but you're listening and you have books at home that you just never knew what to do with. There is a wonderful website called give back box.com. Find any cardboard box whether it's a wardrobe box, or a big Amazon box, and fill it up with books for $15. It does not matter if it weighs five pounds or 75 pounds, your label will cost you $15. And you bring it to UPS and it will come our way. I've had children's authors send me cartons of their books using this method. I've had a Girl Scout troop in California, send me three huge boxes that I really could not lift for $15 that otherwise you would think cost hundreds Yeah. Or you might want to send me one book and write a note in it, why you loved this book. And that note will stay in the book for the child and stick that in the mail. It costs about $1.50 from what I'm told, and we'll donate it so we're happy for support. We'd love to brainstorm and network increase our audience and raise awareness.

Mary Harcourt  23:53  
Yeah, I love that. I love it you saved booklet for that's such a cute term. 2300 boxes is very impressive. You guys are out there. You're changing these kids life, whether it just be making a crappy day a little brighter for them. Maybe you're giving them their only reading material that they have. It's awesome. You also go into hospitals occasionally Correct?

Leslie Gang  24:14  
Yes. So basically, the types of organizations are serving children in need financially or with special needs, who may be ill who might be a special needs school recovering from an illness and a lot of those specific recipients the hospitals, some outpatient clinics, some nonprofits dealing with terminally ill children, they will not accept us books due to the compromised immunity of the kids. So we've been very fortunate to get 1000s of books donated from tremendous publishers scholastic Disney publishing, Harper Collins Penguin Random House and we've partnered with Barnes and Noble over the holiday season and we have 1000s of new books that we really do set aside for those specific organizations. But even those getting gently used Books, those are getting three reviews, there's like three steps of review. The first person is if you marry want to run a book drive, you're getting the criteria of what I accept. Or if you're sending me a bag of books, you're getting a list of what I take, then I have my volunteers who are labeling those books will review every book, then I, myself or David, package, all the books with the help of one or two volunteers, we go through every book to make sure it's still appropriate. So even if you're getting the gently used books, we're not talking like 40 years old, from attic pages, or yellow, you know, the water damage. It's not what we're giving out. We don't even give out really library books. So the kids feel like, it's really a leftover. Our criteria is we want the child to enjoy reading this book at bedtime, and feel proud to own it. If the book you have in your hands fits that mold, we will take it. So yeah, it's been really great to partner with those hospitals and whatnot, because we have the new books to give them. So that's been wonderful.

Unknown Speaker  25:56  
Yeah, I mean, that's great. You guys are definitely in the right thing, doing the right making the right moves.

Mary Harcourt  26:01  
What are some challenges you've faced over the years getting Hindus libraries to what it is today.

Leslie Gang  26:08  
There are a lot of good causes in the world. Sometimes it is hard to decipher where to put your time and money. That's an ongoing battle. Because while what we're doing is beautiful, and hopefully meaningful for David and David's five children that you know, mom is still everywhere now and will be there. Hopefully, for many years to come. It is stressful to know that without appropriate funding, I you don't know how far this can go. Right now we're okay. But that's a challenge. Because like I said, all you need to do is go through scroll through your social media, you'll see 20 to 30 different nonprofits asking for funding for a wonderful cause that might be meaningful to you. So it's rough, and the pandemic only made it rougher, more difficult, especially after people had, you know, lost their jobs or you know, became not as financially stable as they were prior to the pandemic. So, that was rough. It's still a challenge, I'll be honest, but it's rewarding when you find someone who really sees the purpose. I think the other biggest challenge is because David and I work full time, we're not able to really, during the day, do much manpower. So I might have I had someone once in New Jersey, say I have three pallets of children's books come yellow. Yeah, I couldn't, we couldn't get them. Because not only was the far but we don't have a truck, we don't have the staff to say go drive there, you know, and go pick them up and bring them to our warehouse or storage. That challenge of being volunteer based, does come into play a lot when, again, like I mentioned before, no one's doing this to be paid or be on the clock. So if they're not interested, or they have other priorities, it's rough to get that support. But hopefully by setting up a good core team, I see. And if you if you look on our social media, we're doing wonderful initiatives, all volunteer led all, you know brainchild of myself, David, an intern, a colleague, a friend who said, try this, maybe this will work do this kind of initiative. It's a challenge, but I need to I need to accomplish it. Like just making it a challenge and saying this is really rough. I'm over it. That doesn't work for me, because like I said earlier, I'm super Taipei. So if you present me with a challenge, I'm working on it. I might put it on the back burner, but it's not over. For example, I started writing grants when we started the nonprofit and I'm like, I'm, I've been really good at writing English. I'm gonna get all the grants, I got it, it's in the bag. But let me tell you 75 hours later, I got zero. And I said, Okay, it's not for me, I'm not gonna totally discard this. But I got to think about how to do this. Fast forward, I have found two wonderful volunteers. One who was a grant writer by trade and looking for something to get back to. And the other is a woman who's starting a second career in grant writing, and wants the experience and she's in a school getting experience and techniques on how to write a grant. My challenge, I didn't fail it, I just kind of said, Okay, I need to fix that. But let me focus on other things, get the organization off the ground. And now here I am. And we're hopefully applying for several brands with people who have experience more so than I do. So a challenge to me is only something exciting, or else it's boring, like you said exactly. Like you said earlier, Mary when when you're not learning something new, you kind of hit this like roadblock. I feel that same way. If you look on our platforms, there's always an initiative every month. That's not because I'm bored. I'm really not bored. If I get in that, that didn't work. And I feel that for a few days. I say okay, something new, it's time let's let's figure out something different and find a new angle. And that keeps me on my toes.

Mary Harcourt  29:45  
Yeah, I mean, you're definitely a driven motivated fighter, who you see a challenge and must conquer and that's why this has grown to what it is now. Being a little bit more organized has helped you because now you can tie in these volunteers from all over the world. And you already have things typed up and like ready to go for them, which is so helpful. I mean, it's one of the biggest things that I think people struggle with, when you're scaling businesses is getting those systems in place it can take, it's so time consuming. And not everyone knows how to do it like you must, you can do the same thing all the time, but writing it down so that someone else in a different country can pick it up and be able to duplicate that is such a gift and a talent and a skill, that you have that which is so helpful. I think it would be so cool. We, primarily, all roasters are in the beauty industry, I came from the beauty industry background, I think it would be so cool. And such a huge way to connect both you and the beauty industry and your clients to do book drives at a salon because these clients, they're mostly women, and women have children that grew up and went to college. And now they're left with all these books on a bookshelf, and they don't want to throw them out. But they would love to do a little bit of good for their community. That'd be so great for salon owners to schedule like, hey, let's take the month of June and for all of June, we're gonna do a book drive, bring your books in, they'll contact you, you'll help them like, figure everything out, you can contact your news channels, your bloggers or influencers, they can get their local community involved. If you weren't organized a book drive, hold it at your salon, you could advertise all through the community that a let's name a salon here, I'm blue salon, for the month of June is doing a book drive. And now you can go into all the schools and say, hey, just want to let you know make you aware if you want to hang a poster that will be appreciated. Or if you want to add it to your newsletter, that blue slot is holding a book drive in all of June, all the moms there are reading this newsletter or reading the email or seeing the sign and going oh, actually, I have a lot of books I can use. And they see it's at Blue salon thinking kind of needing to get my eyebrows done for like months and months and months. I'm going to schedule an appointment at Blue salon, I'm gonna bring in the book. And if I heard that in my local area, or somebody was doing it and it was at a salon, I would certainly be like, you know, I've been meeting a facial. Let me go grab all these books and take it to that. And it's a great way to help your organization grow and let Dr. Hindoos memory live on. It's like so many dots are connected all at the same time. So if somebody wants to do this, and they're sitting there going, No, it is a great idea. I would love to do this at my salon, what's the best way to reach out to you and get involved so that you can help them organize it. I don't know if you have people that are able to pick up the books or how that works? I'm sure you do.

Leslie Gang  32:26  
So you could reach me on any social media platform. Hindi libraries, h i n di s, libraries plural, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn will all come to me. You could email me Lesley LTS li e, at Handys libraries.org. I will answer the email within an hour promise. And yeah, I'm here to help. I'm not going to say great. Sounds good. Speak to me when you're done. That's not how it works. I will help you make the flyer we could talk about contacting local media, you'll tell me a few towns and cities that are close to you. I'll do my part and write a press release. We'll add in the flyer we'll get it out there to the bloggers, I'll find some influencers in your areas on Instagram, that have your following or your town or whatever that may be. And I'll help you organize it. I'll help guide you. What are you looking for? Well, we only take children's books what what do you mean children's books do take sh t prepper textbooks, we'll go through all of it. And once we're done, like I said, we have two choices. We could talk about the recipients I already have in your state and see if any of them are drivable. Maybe someone can meet in the middle with you which has happened we could do that route. Or you can say you know, Leslie, I already know who I want this to go to. There is a shelter, domestic abuse, shelter, homeless shelter, foster care, agency, pantry, whatever, in my area, I want to make it go there. Let's do it. I will ship you our dedication stickers. I have a 15 minute training video, where I show you all kinds of books we get and say Is this acceptable? Here's how you will know here's where to put the label. You will text me pictures of books that you don't know about. And I will answer you and we will go through this entire process together. And it will be amazing. Once those books get to those children that I can promise you.

Mary Harcourt  34:15  
You're so organized, I'm so impressed. But that's also part of it too is sure you get feedback and pictures. And after the books are picked up and sorted through and dropped back off the rewarding pictures that your books went and lived on. And like you did that you organized this event at your salon. And now you're getting like the fulfillment fulfillment part of that from these kids that you're changing their life and you can use that for social media. You can use that for marketing, for networking for everything, just to be able to say how blue salon was able to donate 1000 books. It's such an honor to be able to do something that you we talked about immediate payoff, but like it is almost an immediate payoff to be able to hold an event. See how get the community involved and you're going to make so many more connections. You're gonna get new clients run a new client forum for that month and see how many new clients came in that it was also such a great way for you to build your business, help kids and then sustain an organization. I think it's so cool.

Leslie Gang  35:12  
Yeah, I think exactly what you said, Mary, it's, it's a great way to connect the community. And some people you may have never seen before, will walk in the door. You know, I've had, someone once asked me how I track the levels of involvement. And I really don't, but there's so many people that have started as Oh, I just dropped off books at your door to I want to run a book drive to I want to help however I can. That could be your next best client that then brings their whole company to your salon, to say we're doing a girls night in the salon we're going to do, I'm going to come and bring my family, my mother, my sister, my cousin, you never know what relationships you can build. And this is a beautiful way to start them. And I found that myself as well. So I if you are able to, I totally recommend it.

Mary Harcourt  35:59  
I love that it's such a ripple, like, you might have one mom that comes in, but if she's part of the PTA or something, now you have access to the entire school, as she's gonna tell so many other people like I went to the salon, it was so cute, I had the best service and my provider was so nice, and I booked another appointment, you should totally go. And who knows how far that word will travel to bring more people in your books and fill you up is like a successful salon all because you're able to connect some dots and help some kids get books that they would have never had access to.

Leslie Gang  36:33  
Yeah, it's kind of like about two or three years ago, there was a barber shop that started giving out books to the kids as they were cutting their hair that made national media that was just something people didn't even think was two different worlds colliding. All from this guy bringing books and to the kids were reading while he was cutting their hair. And that was I guess that was their thing. They were donating books to the kids, or letting them borrow them. You never know what this can do. And this has been so fulfilling for me. I hope that if you're listening and it sounds like something you might want to be involved in, just let's let's chat about it. There's never pressure on my end. Like I said from the beginning, we're all volunteers, we are all involved and taking that step. Because something inside of us wants to do that not because we're told to or forced to. So I'd love to chat, we could network in other ways. I'll just share with you that I had a children's author in Texas. Now I'm in New York. So in Texas, who originally asked me how I can share their book on our social, which we do we feature children's authors, at least three times a month, no cost, we just show their books. And we ask if they feel comfortable to donate a book to us in return. And we'll give it forward. That happened. I would say three years ago, fast forward, we ran a book drive in Texas for a hospital, where we got about 5000 new books donated from publishers and families in her community. Now I was never there never went there never really met her name is KB never met KB just we just worked together to brainstorm. And then she was a judge for my children's Literary Award contest we just finished before the new year, this develops and when you feel good about something, it kind of keeps you going especially on the not so happy parts of life which we know exists, especially these days, having something good and meaningful have being a part of your day, it really makes a difference. So when you have those bad days or rough days and you want that fulfilling part of it, Indies is always here to support and be that to to fill that void and help you do something really good. Maybe just by doing something on your computer or not even moving, you know just making a fly. What do you do? Do really think about it if you're going to run a drive in your salon, we made a flyer together you may be printed it you may be blasted it on an email, blast and social and look what you just did you collected 1000 books for children. That's all it takes. And who

Mary Harcourt  38:49  
knows where those books are going to go on. Like, of course they get put in someone's hands. And that's a beautiful thing and wonderful. But who knows if that goes then to a shelf that someone else collects and brings back to a book drive. And now it goes to another child, the action you're doing the ripple of it is so you never know where it what's going to happen or who's going to be touched from it. But it lives on that one single movement of holding a book drive or holding an event or donating a book or donating funds to ship these books. You never quite know the ripple of the amount of good that you're doing.

Leslie Gang  39:20  
It's so easy to do good in the world. And in today's world. It's so needed. If you scroll on social, you're you're not gonna see the best of news, whether it's related to the pandemic, or some sort of racism, anti semitism, political, there's a lot of that that we see and we're exposed to and by the way our children are exposed to because listen, let's be real. They all have technology at a very young age. They know more than we knew as kids just because they have access. So let's do good together. I'm not asking you to go out and buy 400 books and spend all this money. I'm saying there's a potential here for a lot of people to be a part of something really amazing and help children who I need it very much. And I'm grateful to you Mary for your time and I thank you.

Mary Harcourt  40:05  
Alright guys, that's all we have for today. Thank you so much for joining. You can find Hindi at Hindus libraries.org. Also Facebook and Instagram Handys libraries. You can always find me at Mary Harcourt underscore on Instagram. Check me out on my website Mary Harcourt calm we have a tab there for the podcast episodes which will have all of the links needed to find him these libraries. I hope you enjoyed today's episode and many more to come