Tarrytown ‘First Book’ a big hit

North Rockland Teachers Association President Robin Brennan, NYSUT Labor Relations Specialist Barbara Johnson, and a mountain of books. Photo provided.

North Rockland Teachers Association President Robin Brennan, NYSUT Labor Relations Specialist Barbara Johnson, and a mountain of books. Photo provided.

NYSUT locals across the state have been successfully participating in the First Book Challenge project. Thousands of new books have been given away to children, thanks to local unions. One of the latest First Book giveaways was in Tarrytown area, where NYSUT Regional Staff Director Marc Laffer was on hand.

Here is Laffer’s impression of the event:

I would like to share with you our excitement with the Tarrytown Regional Office Inaugural First Book Challenge.  This past Saturday, we gave away more than 30,000 books to children in the Yonkers and North Rockland communities.  The excited look on the faces of the children (and many of the parents) was priceless.

The partnership between NYSUT and First Book allows for locals to get involved by having members complete a registration form and, as we get 2,000 people to register, we are entitled to a “truckload” of books (around 40,000).  For the first truckload, the Yonkers Federation of Teachers (led by President Pat Puleo) and the North Rockland Teachers Association (Robin Brennan, president) generously agreed to have their districts serve as host locations.

Under the direction of Labor Relations Specialist Barbara Johnson, plans were put in place to have the books delivered last Thursday.  On Friday, Barbara, Pat, Robin and dozens of volunteers (teachers, retirees, students and NYSUT staff) spent several hours sorting the books.  On Saturday morning, the doors opened and 30,000 books were given out.  NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino participated at the Yonkers site.  All agreed that our Inaugural First Book Challenge was a complete success.

An event like this does not happen by accident.  Barbara has been working on this project since July and her committee of Amanda Velazquez, Cheryl Aguilar, Michael Perna and Sarah Arbitrio must also be thanked.  Every Tarrytown Regional Office staff person spent some time on this project, either making the 30,000 bookmarks, sorting the books or distributing the books.  Of course, thanks to Pat and Robin who spent a great deal of time making the arrangements in their districts, taking care of all the on-site logistics and having student volunteers working with us.  We also thank the following locals for their support in getting members to register and picking up books at the distribution sites: Brewster TA, Clarkstown TA, Mt Vernon FT, Pearl River TA, St Dominic’s SA, Thrall Library and White Plains TA. Paul Webster of NYSUT headquarters also deserves a shout-out.

We titled this distribution “Season’s Readings” and, in this season of giving, everyone went home happy.  To see photos, please go to our Facebook page. If you have not yet liked our page, do it now.

It would be very easy to rest on our laurels and sit back and enjoy the success but that’s not how we do things here in Tarrytown. We have already started our second First Book Challenge and the third is not far behind.  We look forward to several more truckloads in the region.

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