April 2014  Volume 1 Issue 2


The seasons are changing in Western MA and I love it - the sun is shining, the last of the snow has melted and my favorite event of the year is just around the corner - LTL Spring Event 2014 at the Delaney House in Holyoke on April 30, 2014. For the past few years, these major fundraising events have recharged my batteries, professionally sparked excitement and renewed my enthusiasm for the work we all do.

On behalf of the LTL Board of Directors and volunteers, I would like to invite you to attend and participate in this event. In our community nonprofits rely on a devoted legion of adult volunteers to help ensure the organization remains structured and runs smoothly. I am grateful to have strong and supportive relationships with the volunteers who help keep this organization running as efficiently as it does. Without their help this wonderful event could not take place...but it will!

As an organization, we exist to serve every boy and girl who wants to read and we've worked hard to create an environment where children get to enjoy the experience. To make that mission a reality, we need your constant and consistent help. Please remember to be supportive. Support the many volunteers who give so much of their time dedicated to the children. If you are interested in proposing a project that can put our volunteers and funds to work, we'd love to hear from you. It is my fundamental belief that each one of us needs to get involved and make a difference.

I look forward to welcoming you on April 30 as Link to Libraries moves into its 7th season of serving the children of Western Massachusetts.


Lastly, it is with sadness that I inform you I will no longer have Janet Crimmins working beside me each day leading the way with Link to Libraries. Janet has been a most active Co-founder and Board member these past six years. She will remain on the Board and forever in my heart as a devoted and wonderful Co-founder. Janet and her husband, Tim, have new trails to follow and with that we wish them all the very best.


Susan Jaye-Kaplan

Link to Libraries President & Co-founder 



A Message from Janet Crimmins

Six years ago, Susan Jaye-Kaplan and I sat at my kitchen table discussing how we might help elementary school children overcome their literacy challenges. Little did we know we had just given birth to a small, grass roots nonprofit organization destined to become the largest book distributor in western Massachusetts. Bound together by a passion for literacy, Sue and I designed a program whose sole purpose was to enhance and replace the supply of books in elementary school libraries. Thousands and thousand of books were donated to schools in almost every surrounding town. But not just any books: handpicked, high quality books of all genres, both fiction and nonfiction; bilingual books; pre-literacy preschool books. Each book was specifically chosen for its ability to capture a child's natural curiosity about their world, and its ability to spark and stimulate a child's desire for lifelong reading. But we didn't stop there.       

By forming alliances with a generous business community, local foundations and private donors, all of whom shared Link to Libraries' mission to provide children of all cultural backgrounds with the opportunity to lead happy, successful and productive lives, we began putting free books directly into the hands of children allowing them to start their own home libraries. Working with a bank of over thirty volunteers, ages 8 to 80 years old, we added five unique read aloud programs. Literacy-focused educators and dedicated business leaders representing the fields of journalism, health and fitness, finance, education, and public service donated their time to read in classrooms and in preschools to foster the culture of literacy. Through our Welcome to Kindergarten Program, every child entering kindergarten in Springfield, Holyoke and Chicopee receives both an English and bilingual book. Our Reading Any Place (RAP) program provides books to displaced children and their families living in homeless shelters in six cities. Our new Business Book Link Program links businesses with schools of their choice to establish literacy based initiatives.

The success of Link to Libraries has been overwhelming. Since our inception in 2008, over 225,000 books have been distributed, but there is still much work to be done. I will step down from my position as Co-founder and Treasurer on June 30, 2014. However, I leave with the knowledge that Link to Libraries will continue to thrive under the direction of a tireless woman with remarkable vision, my dear friend and partner, Susan Jaye-Kaplan, Co-founder and President. Her perseverance, along with the continued involvement of our devoted and generous volunteers, shall continue to lead us to our goal of reaching all children one book at a time.

Janet Crimmins 

Link to Libraries Co-founder  


Business Book Link

The Business Book Link program has welcomed several new sponsors over the last few months! Many thanks to Consolidated Health Plan, who sponsored Indian Orchard Elementary School, Easthampton Savings Bank, who sponsored Center-Pepin Elementary School, and Rick's Auto Body who sponsored Baystate Academy Charter Public School.

Through the continued generosity of local business sponsors, underserved students throughout the Pioneer Valley endured the long winter with new books to enjoy and new hats, mittens and socks to help them stay warm. The students truly appreciated the care and attention they received from their program sponsors. Recently, students from White Street School along with their principal, Ms. Kristen Hughes, expressed their thanks with a special video made for sponsors, Drs. Jonna Gaberman and Bruce Wintman.

There are still many more schools and students that need assistance. If you would like to sponsor a school or know of a business that might be interested, please contact us.  

The Business Book Link program is seeking new sponsors. Are you interested in sponsoring a local school or non-profit organization? If you are, we want to hear from YOU.


Great benefits include: Smiles from local children, new books given to schools with your name on them and books to school libraries that are tired and in need of new material.

RAP Reading Any Place

Link to Libraries continues to donate books through the RAP Reading Any Place program to homeless youngsters throughout Western Massachusetts. RAP's books are distributed in West Springfield, Westfield, Holyoke, Chicopee, and Greenfield and through HAP Housing, Square One, and the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance program for the Springfield public schools. Our collaborative team of Homeless Liaisons, guidance councilors, and principals is growing. They include Jordana O'Connell - Holyoke, Ellen Broadhurst - West Springfield, Cindy Rodolakis - Chicopee, Jennifer Alexander - Westfield, Leilani Paniagu - HAP Housing, Faith Lafayette - Department of Public Health, FOR Families Program, and Kathy Coleman - Square One. Some of the Springfield schools which have also received bins of books this past year include Elias Brookings, Homer Street, Kensington Elementary, Sumner Avenue, and White Street School.

Celebrity Read Aloud & Monthly
Independent Readers
The Celebrity Read Aloud program has been very successful. Our Celebrity Readers visited third grade classes at Homer, Kensington, Liberty, Safe, and Tatham schools. Our dedicated readers, including Steve Bradley, Peter Straley, Peter Rosskothen, Denis Gagnon, Christopher Borowiec, Doug Bowen, Steve Davis, Elizabeth Roman, George Burtch, Martin Miller, Charles D'Amour, and Mike Balise continue to inspire and engage their young audiences with their own life stories, enthusiasm, and expressive readings of books such as Henry and the Freedom Box and Dex. As always, we are grateful for our readers' continued support of Link to Libraries.

Welcome to Kindergarten
With the 2013-2014 Welcome to Kindergarten Literacy Book Bag distribution complete, work on the 2014-2015 school year is in full swing. A variety of civic and business organization volunteers have been busy at the warehouse filling book bags with two books, one English and one Bilingual, as well as informational materials for parents about the value of reading. After each box of 40 book bags is labeled by district and school, the boxes are stacked for pick-up. And if the responses from this year 's Welcome to Kindergarten Literacy Survey are any indication, the success of the program is well worth the effort of all the volunteers and monetary donors, as well as the grants that make the program possible.

"Keep the books coming! Thank you," "The kindergarten students enjoyed them and continue to read them over and over," "They were able to make real world connections, book to self," "Beautiful books we are talking about in school," "Students excited to have books and a bag to take home," are just a few of the many positive comments received from teachers and administrators from Springfield, Holyoke and Chicopee, schools served by the program. 

So as preparations are made, books are bagged, and boxes are packed for the next school year's Welcome to Kindergarten Literacy Book Bag Program, it is with the knowledge a new group of young children will soon be welcomed to the wonderful world of reading.

Eastfield Mall Tuesdays for Tots
Read Aloud Program

The Tuesdays for Tots Read Aloud program continues to attract toddlers, parents, grandparents and caregivers from Springfield and the surrounding area. The children are AWESOME listeners. Eastfield Mall now offers arts and crafts sessions after most of our read alouds. We enjoy seeing some of the younger siblings, who were babies in the fall, become old enough to begin listening to the reader. Thanks go out to our winter readers - Phyllis Walsh, Carol Tivoli, and Dave Porter! If you are interested in becoming a reader, please email Gayle Rediker.  


Student Volunteers Hold Special Fundraiser

Link to Libraries student volunteers held a Children's Movie Night fundraiser on Friday, April 4 at Minnechaug High School from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Student volunteers, Bobby Tremblay, Ellie and Grace Trudeau, and Molly Finnegan planned the event. Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs II was the featured film. Suggested admission was a donation of a new soft cover children's book for link to Libraries.


Volunteer Spotlight

A Link to Kids, Families and Growth

For me, Link to Libraries represents a link to kids, families and growth.

My two children have been youth volunteers for LTL for the past couple of years. In fact, my son was so eager to help he was allowed to participate a little earlier than the standard starting age. As youth volunteers, they get a chance to help other children and families in a meaningful way that is familiar to them. They quickly understand the books that touch their hands will fall into the hands of other children to enjoy. They understand that as volunteers, they make a difference. They understand other children can dream and imagine through books.

My children have also found some good friends as part of the volunteer family at LTL. The family atmosphere provides them with a chance to work with other kids in a comfortable and respectful way as they all share the same tasks and goals with youthful pride and enthusiasm. They look forward to spending time helping other children and feel good about their efforts every time.

Ultimately, our connection with LTL is about growth. It is about growth for me and my children and growth for the many children whose lives are touched and whose imaginations are sparked through books. Books provide a magical connection by  capturing the attention of children and families from all cultural backgrounds.

We are grateful to everyone at LTL for providing my family with this opportunity to enrich our lives and those of so many in our community.

Claire D'Amour-Daley

Vice President of Corporate Communications

Big Y World Class Markets

Link to Libraries Volunteer



Congratulations to Casey Lu Simon-Plumb a Link to libraries Youth Advisory Member who recently was awarded a Coca-Cola Scholars Award. Casey is a senior at Minnechaug Regional High School, Wilbraham.


Congratulations to Connor Daley who received the St. Thomas (West Springfield) Dan Kennedy Straight From the Heart Award for his participation in the St. Thomas CYO Basketball Team. Connor is a Grade 3 student and is son of Dan and Claire and sibling to Erin. Connor has been a Link to Libraries Youth Volunteer since age 8.  

Thank You to All Our Read Aloud Volunteers

Dana Barrows - Mittineague School, West Springfield

Kelly Beaulieu - Coburn School, West Springfield

Erica Broman and Holyoke Community College - Morgan School, Holyoke

George Burtch - McMahon School, Holyoke

Mary Daboul - Bowie School, Chicopee

Roberta Hillenberg-Gang - Brightwood School and Square One, Springfield

Michael Hirshberg - Selsar School, Chicopee

Kathy Kessler - Square One, Springfield

Susan Landry - Kelly School, Holyoke

Meyers Bros. Kalicka - Sullivan School, Holyoke

George O'Brien and BusinessWest Magazine - Rebecca Johnson School and DeBerry School, Springfield

Malcolm Schneider - Dorman School, Springfield

Bill Trudeau and Insurance Center of New England - Martin Luther King Charter School of Excellence, Springfield

Karen Fortin - Woods, Discovery School, Greenfield

Thank you to All Our Volunteers &
Advisory Board Members

Susan Landry, Casey and Abby Simon-Plumb, Susanne Simon, The Robitaille Family, The Trudeau Family, The Tremblay Family, Roberta Hillenberg-Gang, Sally Schneider, Gail Baquis, Kathleen Plante, Kieran Summers, The Grodsky Family, The Perry Family, Jack Nystrom, Alec Robinson, The Kessler Family, Kathy Kessler, The Fitzgerald Family, The Finnegan Family, The D'Amour Daley Family, The Crimmins Family, The Cornwell Family, The Weiner Family, The Rediker and Anderlonis Family, Amanda Biron, Phyliss Walsh, Carol Fox and Margot Woodworth.


Many thanks to Rediker Software, Inc.  

of East Longmeadow for graciously providing us with warehouse space  

and for the many hours of volunteer  

service their employees provide to us.



In This Issue
Business Book Link
Celebrity Read Aloud & Monthly Independent Readers
Thank You to All our Volunteers & Advisory Board Members
Welcome to Kindergarten
Mission Statement

Link To Libraries is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in May 2008, whose mission is to collect and distribute new and gently used books to elementary school libraries and non-profit organizations and to enhance the language and literacy skills of children of all cultural backgrounds.

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2014 Calendar
of Events

April 30, 2014 -
Book a Trip Around
the World
Link to Libraries Major Event, 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm - Delaney House and D Hotel & Suites, Holyoke, MA


May 7, 2014, 6:50 pm - 8:30 pm - Adult Advisory Board Meeting at Rediker Software, Hampden, MA

June 5, 2014, 6:50 pm - 8:15 pm - Ice Cream Social at Rediker Software for all LTL volunteers

Ongoing Read Alouds Throughout
the Region

Yankee Candle at Greenfield Public Schools


Dana Barrows at Mittenegeau School, West Springfield  


Kelly Beaulieu at Coburn School, West Springfield  


Mary Daboul at Bowie School, Chicopee


Mike Hirshberg at Selsar School, Chicopee


George Burtch at McMahon School, Holyoke


Holyoke Community College at Morgan School, Holyoke


Roberta Hillenberg-Gang at Brightwood School, Springfield


Kathy Kessler & Roberta Hillenberg-Gang at Square One, Springfield at King Street


George O'Brien and BusinessWest Magazine at DeBerry School, Springfield


George O'Brien, Kate Campiti and BusinessWest Magazine at Rebecca Johnson School, Springfield

Fast Facts

Link To Libraries has donated books to over 400 sites in Western Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and New York.

Since its inception in May 2008, Link To Libraries has donated over 225,000 new books to area non-profits and public elementary schools.

Link To Libraries has 32 teen and adult volunteers

Link to Libraries serves children from birth through grade seven

Link to Libraries has four major initiatives:


Reading Any Place for Homeless Youth - serving six cities and 1,800 children


Welcome to Kindergarten:

Literacy book bags for over 5,000 children annually


Read Aloud Programs:

Over sixty-seven for 2013-2014


Business Book Links:

Offering an opportunity for local businesses, individuals, families, and clubs to positively impact childhood literacy by providing books for children to own and donating books to school libraries in underserved communities. The Program creates business/school collaborations to ensure local public elementary schools in underserved Western Massachusetts communities, pre K - grade five, have new books in their libraries and students are able to create at-home libraries.

We Select Language-rich Books that -

Appeal to and cross all cultures


Encourage literacy-based family interaction


Address contemporary issues facing young readers


Engage reluctant readers


Build literacy-rich home environments


Introduce and reinforce new vocabulary


Encourage classroom discussion


Are aligned with classroom curriculum


Stimulate higher-level thinking


Allow children to make text-to-life connections


Genres include:


Board Books

Pre-Kindergarten Early Literacy





Health and Fitness


Earth, Life and Space Science

Award Winners and Favorites

Folktales and Fables



Favorite Character and Popular Series Chapter Books
Book Wish List

Ten Black Dots by D. Crews


Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats


Ten Nine Eight by M. Bang

Madeline by L. Bemelmans

Make Way for Ducklings by McCloskey


Jamaica's Find by J. Havill


Handa's Surprise by E. Browne


A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams


Blueberries for Sal by R. McCloskey


Caps for Sale by E. Slobodkina


Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne


The Fighting Ground by Avi

A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy

A Song for Cambodia by M. Lord


Jump Ship to Freedom by C. Collier