I have a confession to make. For those of you that don’t know I’m a total and utter book worm. Crazy about books. To the point where one just never seems to be enough. I can easily have two or three books on the go. And sometimes that’s not even enough. I blame my Mum for this ‘problem’ for she read books or made up stories for me in bed each night as far back as I can remember.
I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have access to books. If all of a sudden I didn’t have some spare cash to visit my favourite second hand book store or wasn’t able to use my local library. So when I first heard Sarah Garnett talk about one of the challenges homeless people face being that exact thing I was dumbfounded. I’d never thought about not being able to get books being an additional issue for the disadvantaged in our community. I was then excited to learn that Sarah had come up with a solution.
The Benjamin Andrew Footpath Library came to being in 2003 following the death of one of Sarah’s closest friends, Benjamin Andrew. Sarah had decided she wanted to give something back to the community so she started to volunteer on a local soup van, serving meals to the homeless. One night she noticed one of the men reading a book under the street light before they arrived. So the next week she brought him book of her own to read. And so it began.
The Footpath Library, as is is affectionately known, aims to make books more accessible to the homeless and disadvantaged members of our society, change our attitudes to these people and encourage literacy. And for anyone like me who loves books you will know how powerful they can be. As Sarah once said,
“Books are powerful – they have the ability to change someone’s life. They offer choices, whether it be to reconnect with a past interest, to learn or to just escape from an often miserable day to day existence.”
Since its humble beginnings, it has expanded from Sydney to Melbourne and Brisbane, looks set to start in Perth later this year and hopes to be nationwide by 2014.
All of the management team and coordinators of the programs are volunteers and the organisation receives a lot of in-kind support as well as many donations of books, so it’s a fairly ‘thrifty’ support program to offer the homeless.
This Thursday, the Fish Chick says thank you to Sarah Garnett and her team of generous staff who provide such inspiration, escapism and pages of possibilities to those less fortunate in our community.
Read more about the Footpath Library here.
See you in the pond,
The Fish Chick.