NOVA RIF YOUNG AMBASSADOR PROGRAM
RIF of NOVA's Young Ambassador Volunteer Program is continuing into its second academic year -- 2022-2023 with three new ambassadors! The idea is to encourage young people in our community to provide other youngsters with books and to encourage the love of reading. (Note: The application process for the 2023-2024 academic year will open in May 2023. See below for additional details about the program.)
Carly is a junior at Georgetown Visitation in fall 2022. She plays tennis and is an editor and frequent contributor to her school newspaper. In her free time, she likes to make grilled cheese sandwiches, walk her dog Hoolie, and, of course, read. She loves fiction, especially murder mysteries, fantasy novels, and thrillers. Her favorite author is Agatha Christie and among her favorite books are The Da Vinci Code, The A.B.C. Murders, and the Percy Jackson series.
In her application for the YA program, Carly wrote: "I have always been the person who brings too many books to any event. My family likes to joke when we go on road trips that I’m taking my own personal library. Books are a safe space for me and have helped me through a lot of hard times. This comfort is something that I think everyone should have and would like to do my best to spread."
Carly's plan for her Young Ambassador year:
"I came across the NOVA RIF website while researching ways that I could get involved in helping to give everyone access to books. This year, I was a part of a mentorship program at my school called Saturday School. I committed lots of my time and talent to the program and even designed the program's new logo. As a Young Ambassador, I would like to contribute my leadership skills, creativity, and passion for books to helping with the NOVA RIF website and newsletter. I would also like to hold book drives in my local community and church, plan and participate in events, and raise awareness for the cause."
Ninth grader Camille Fallen fell in love with books when she was in kindergarten, and, since then, her personal library has grown exponentially. Her early collection of Magic Tree House books rapidly expanded to include The Land of Stories and The School of Good and Evil series. Through reading, Camille developed a curiosity that has served her well in both her academics, in fostering an interest in music and dance, and in broadening her knowledge of the wider world.
Before being selected as a Youth Ambassador for Reading is Fundamental of NOVA, Camille was chosen as a Kid Reporter for Scholastic. As part of a team of Kid Reporters, she had the privilege of interviewing President and Mrs. Obama and also conducted solo interviews with Emmy Award winning journalist Lillian Cunningham, renowned textile artist Bisa Butler, and several others. She hopes to apply some of the skills she honed as a Kid Reporter, such as being prepared, persistent, and confident, to her Youth Ambassadorship.
Camille’s plan for her Young Ambassador year:
“I want to be able to spread my love for reading in the Northern Virginia community by participating in book drives and distributions, researching children's books in order to identify and recommend them, and raising funds and collecting diverse books for the diverse young readers in the NOVA RIF population. It’s important to promote reading early in kids’ lives so that they are confident in their ability to read. I’m excited that I will be able to make an impact.”
Alex Pomper is a senior at Langley High School. He started a book drive in his neighborhood in November 2021 after learning that 61 percent of low-income children don't have any books in their homes and that 50 percent of adults can't read at an 8th grade level. In January 2022, he launched his website, Giveakidabook.org because of the tremendous response he received from his initial "ask" for donations.
Since then, he has collected more than 6,600 books and has donated to multiple nonprofit organizations in the D.C, metro area including Second Story in Fairfax, Community Family Life Services in D.C., and the Latin American Youth Center in D.C. and in Prince George's County. He has also partnered with the McLean Community Center and Churchill Road Elementary to donate more than 1,000 books to Dogwood Elementary in Reston. At least once a month, he hosts book distributions for clients of the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC).
Books have been a big part of Alex's childhood, so he loves reading and talking about books. He enjoys science fiction and fantasy narratives. Roots by Alex Haley is currently his favorite book.
Alex's plan for his Young Ambassador year:
"I'd love to volunteer to sort and hand out books at RIF of NOVA distributions. I'd also be happy to "co-brand" my Arlington Food Assistance Center distributions with NOVA RIF. AFAC's food recipients are in real need of books, particularly board and picture books and just about any books that are bilingual. I hope that by working together, we can be even more effective."
Our first "class" of Young Ambassadors is featured below -- and just look at what these two inspirational leaders have done to help RIF of NOVA with its work! Both Addison and McKenzie are continuing as ambassadors into the 2022-2023 academic year.
Young Ambassador Addison Clift shows the commendation bookmark she received for collecting over 1,600 gently used books for NOVA RIF during the pandemic. This West Potomac High School senior (in fall 2022) got the word out by posting her appeal on social media, writing an article for her high school weekly newspaper, and reaching out to her younger sister and young cousins to get the word to elementary school families in her community. In 2019, she and several friends set up a GoFundMe appeal for NOVA RIF, and she donned the Clifford costume for our 2019 Book It for Books 5-K Race, to the delight of the children who attended the event.
Addison made a video in English and Spanish encouraging parents to read to their children. She also translated the NOVA RIF photo release form into Spanish.
When McKenzie Watt learned that many children in our community do not have books in their homes, she was surprised -- and concerned. Not one to sit still, this lover of books and reading decided to turn her concern into action. The seventh grader (in fall 2022) set up an organization, Kenzie’s Kids, to collect new and gently used children’s books to distribute to children in the NOVA community. So far, she has collected over 4,300 books, with over 1,200 donated to NOVA RIF! Young Ambassador McKenzie Watt received a commendation RIF of NOVA bookmark for her wonderful efforts.
McKenzie has also written two book reviews for NOVA RIF's website. One focused on a favorite book: Charlie Hernández & The League of Shadows. Another reviewed A Long Walk to Water about a "Lost Boy" from Sudan and his efforts to bring water to his home country. Find both reviews here.
Young Ambassador Volunteer Program Details
What is it? It's a chance for you to help us do what we do, based on your interests and time available. Each year, NOVA RIF plans to solicit applications for up to three young people who will then serve during the following academic year in the program.
What might you do? Help us with...
Book collections: Interested in helping collect gently used books and/or distributing them, along with new books, at book donation events? If so, come join us. Wait until you see the joy on a child's face when receiving a book to own!
Fundraising: Fundraising is our most pressing need; all of our funding needs to be raised locally. Might you organize and launch a fundraiser?
Event help and participation: RIF of NOVA hosts a biannual Book It for Books 5K Race/Walk. The next one is in the early planning stages for October 2023. How might you help before the event? Form a team to walk or run. Make signs and posters. Distribute fliers to local businesses. Spread the word on social media.
On race day? Sign in runners. Direct runners/walkers where to go on the running/walking path. Put up signs and balloons. Staff the food or book table, serve water, take photos, and even be Clifford!!! That is a big job, for sure because everyone LOVES Clifford!
Social media expertise: Do you have social media skills? If so, we would use your help to spread the word about RIF of NOVA's many activities!
Create a photo slideshow or movie: Such material would be geared to generate interest and donations via our website and social media.
Author a blog or children's book review: If accepted, your blog, review, or even a regular "column" about children's books could be published on our website and in our newsletter, the RIF RAP.
Other ideas/proposals: Welcome!
What's in this for you?
It's a chance to develop skills to note on a high school or college application or resume, not to mention an opportunity to provide a service to our community and make a difference in the lives of NOVA children. In addition, your participation may qualify for school service hours. Please check with your counselor/advisor.
If you would like to volunteer to help NOVA RIF outside of the Young Ambassador program, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.