A group of Farmington women who love reading believe they can pass that love along and improve the lives of hundreds of young women at Vista Maria, a residential treatment program in Dearborn.
Farmington Lit Ladies Book Club will raise money to purchase books through a four-day fundraiser Nov. 23-27 at Barnes & Noble book stores. During that time, anyone who makes a purchase at any Barnes & Noble can request that their purchase amount be applied to the Vista Maria Book Fair fundraiser, by mentioning Bookfair ID 10917136.
The goal, club member Mary Brown said, is to purchase appropriate books for teens who need support and encouragement as they put their lives back together after family difficulties or minor run-ins with the law. The project has its roots in a mentoring relationship she has with one of the girls.
"While talking with her, it came to light there wasn't any real literacy program (at Vista Maria)," Brown said. "To me, reading is the way to go for these girls ... We just believe so strongly that if you're a reader, you can get yourself out of any situation."
Vista Maria helps about 1,000 girls every year, Brown said. They come from backgrounds that include abuse and poverty and generally stay from three to six months with the nonprofit, which was founded in 1883 by Sisters of the Good Shepherd.
Club hosts Vista Maria book fair
The Lit Ladies, all 11 of them, have been meeting to talk about their love of reading for more than 25 years. To share their love of books, they've created a monthly Vista Maria literary newsletter and held a book fair for the girls.
Barnes & Noble will dedicate 25 percent of in-store purchase amounts, and 10 percent of on-line purchase amounts, so Vista Maria can purchase books that are age- and content-appropriate, for a January book fair.
Brown said most will likely be young adult fiction, particularly books that have won literary awards. She added, "One girl wanted to read about foster care, because she was about to go into foster care. Another wanted a book about mental illness."
Brown, a retired teacher, said club members have an unshakable belief that reading can open doors and transform lives.
"We're just trying to put books in their hands and let them see how enthusiastic we are about reading," Brown said. "That's been our mission, to empower through reading."
Club members are Madelyn Ryan, Mary Brown, Mary Carson, Mary Reading, Anne Marie Kurzyniec, Susan Poppert, Joanne Rochow, Carol Roble, Diane Sands, Terry Selenger and Janet Vogel.
Anyone interested in supporting the "Vista Maria Reads" campaign can send financial contributions to Friends of Vista Maria Readers, 32009 Valley View, Farmington MI 48336.
Barnes & Noble stores closest to Farmington and Farmington Hills are located at 6800 Orchard Lake Rd. in West Bloomfield and 17111 Haggerty Rd. in Northville.