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Book Bank Gets $45K IKEA-Aided Makeover

Book Bank Gets $45K IKEA-Aided Makeover

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Published by Kendra Baker
After undergoing two months of renovation, New Haven Reads unveiled its remodeled book bank on 45 Bristol St. on Sunday—with matching bookshelves, and lots of light.
After undergoing two months of renovation, New Haven Reads unveiled its remodeled book bank on 45 Bristol St. on Sunday—with matching bookshelves, and lots of light.

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Published by: Kendra Baker on Nov 28, 2013
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12/03/2013

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BY
Kendra Baker 
 | OCT 7, 2013 10:33 AM
 After undergoing two months of renovation, New Haven Reads unveiled its remodeled book bank on45 Bristol St. on Sunday—with matching bookshelves, and lots of light.New Haven Reads started out as a book-giveaway storefront 12 years ago. It has grown into a thrivingliteracy center that circulates 100,000 books a year and provides tutoring, education programs, SATprep classes and a summer literacy camp.“Most of [the renovation] was finished by the time we started tutoring, which was the second week of September, but we still had some odds and ends to finish up,” said Tanya Smith, education director and parent liaison of New Haven Reads.“The carpeting is new, everything’s been repainted, the bookcases are new,” said Smith, who hasworked with New Haven Reads since 2008. “Seeing everything unfold was the best part about therenovation, especially for all of us who have been working here and know what it looked like before.”The book bank’s funding comes from grants and donations. The center’s furniture prior to therenovation was all donated.“Whatever piece of furniture came through the door, we kept. We had every combination of desk andchair you could possibly imagine—nothing matched and half of it was broken,” said Smith. “WhenIKEA came in and said they would like to donate furniture, the staff literally started crying.”IKEA donated around $10,000 of furniture—including 27 student desks and counter-tops, four staff desks, 39 bookcases, six rolling file cabinets, 56 chairs, desk lamps and frames—to the $45,000board-approved renovation project. Contractors and tradespeople donated $15,000 of services. Thathelped keep the cost down; the organization expects to have spent under $30,000 when all bills are in.The book bank’s walls have been painted with the colors of the organization’s orange and blue logo,giving the space a clean, refreshing look. The organization’s mission statement—“Share the joy andpower of reading”—has been painted in a decorative font on the wall for people to see right when theywalk in. The building, which Yale donated to New Haven Reads in 2005, had one bathroom for everyone to share prior to the renovation. Now it has two. That mattered to the staff in particular.Before
Book Bank Gets $45K IKEA-Aided Makeover 
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therenovation, the back room—where many of the books are stored—was referred to as “the dungeon”because of its dimness.“There was a window, but there was hardly any light back there—it was very gloomy,” said Smith, wholoves the lighting of the back room now that an additional window was installed during the renovation.New bookcases were another big improvement for the backroom. Like all the other furniture that usedto be in the building, the donated bookshelves had mismatched. Now—thanks to IKEA—the bookbank has all uniform bookcases.Lisa Gray, president of the Board of Directors and principal of Gray-Organschi Architecture, helpeddesign the backroom.“When you have a space that’s so packed with junk—we weren’t sure how we could make it workbetter, but Lisa and her company drew it out for us by looking at the IKEA furniture and figuring out howit was going to fit,” said Smith. “They also constructed the dividers, which gave the room some morecolor and created individual spacing for the kids.”While New Haven Reads deserved a renovation, it could really use “tutors and money,” Smith said.“We tutor over 500 children but we have over 200 on the waiting list, so we can always use morevolunteers,” Smith explained.New Haven Reads, founded by the late Christine Alexander, has a longstanding need for volunteerslike scientist, life coach and comedian  Alan Winick, who spent an afternoon leading New HavenReads students in hands-on science projects.Keri Humphries,outreach coordinator for New HavenReads, recruitsvolunteers at localbusinesses, whereshe conductspresentations toeach people aboutthe organization.“If the business isvery close, they cancome over after workfor an hour andvolunteer sometime,” saidHumphries. “We also work with Yale, UNH, Southern, Quinnipiac—so people have been volunteeringfrom those universities.”Humphries said volunteers at New Haven Reads range in age from 16 to 85 and come from manynearby towns.“We see volunteers who are students, retired teachers—we’ve even had retired homicide policedetectives,” said Humphries. “Just anyone who wants to give an hour a week.”For people who aren’t comfortable with tutoring but still want to help out, the book bank welcomes
Keri Humphries shows visitors of the open house one of the book bank’s newlyrenovated rooms
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