For the past two years, Bess the Book Bus kicked off our nationwide tour at the Transitions Championship in Innisbrook, FL. The seven day golf tournament brought in 2,000 children from Title 1 schools and gave them access to things that are normally out of reach including golf lessons, eye exams and brand new books. Larry Bicz saw Bess giving away brand new books behind the 18th hole and approached us about bringing the bus to his home town of Buffalo, NY.

Larry knew there was need in his community and saw Bess as a way to help. It became a personal mission to make sure that we could come. He helped with everything from hosting to planning. He also brought on Stacy Lund of Entercom Communications to promote our events and increase our impact. Their involvement made it possible for the 2011 Transitions/VSP Success is in Sight tour to travel to Buffalo for three days of outreach. Personal partnerships are a key piece in keeping success in sight for children across the country. We are thankful for similar individuals in New York, Colorado and Maine that make this trip possible.

The Belle Center

An afternoon on the lawn is a great way spend a sunny afternoon. The children in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program joined Bess the Book Bus at The Belle Center for a raucous read aloud on the lawn. As the line formed to pick brand new books, neighbors started to notice. The Belle Center is the resource hub for Western New York and includes programs that help infants through seniors. More people arrived at the event, opening access of books to families who can’t afford them. Extra books were donated to The Belle Center to support the preschool and teen programs.

Children had thousands of books to choose from including some of their favorite titles from Candlewick Press, Capstone, Penguin and Townsend Press.

The Falk School

Summer was in full effect, but some schools were still in session. Bess the Book Bus made special visits to the Stanley G. Falk School and its satellite campus at Public School 53. Stanley G. Falk School provides educational programming for students who have special learning, social, and emotional needs. The Stanley G. Falk School also works with an onsite group home.

“Most of our students come from really limited home settings,” said principal Martha Sanfilippo.  “They don’t have the opportunities to go to the library. They don’t have the opportunities to have someone sit down and read them a story. So to have someone read a story to them to share books and words, you can just tell that it’s a component in their lives that they are hungry for.”

Barnes and Noble

Our final event in Buffalo was at the local Barnes & Noble. Jennifer was invited to share the stage with Grandma Fay, the resident reader. Grandma Fay’s story time has been an in-store staple for six years. Her weekly groups come together for something more than just business as usual.

“Even though it’s retail,” says Fay, “It’s about the friends the books and the good kids that work here.”

Parents bring children of all ages to get engaged in reading. Grandma Fay includes songs, games and activities to bring her stories to life. Jennifer read Grumpy Bird and Grandma Fay read The Story About Ping. Afterward, children skipped coloring time to come on the bus and pick out brand new books.