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Primary among those local advocates was Heather Butts, a native New Yorker raised in Queens and co-founder of H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths, a nonprofit guiding young people to reach their goals in life. Butts, who has spearheaded the placement of approximately 70 Little Free Libraries book-sharing boxes in neighborhoods around New York City, brought in several other organizations to assist LFL in bringing the Read in Color project to all five boroughs.
“I’ve always felt that the beauty of the Little Free Library concept is that it has something for everyone,” Butts said. “Over 800 different languages and dialects are spoken in New York City, and a third of the people living in New York City were born in a country other than the United States. My ultimate hope is that anyone who picks up a book from one of the Read in Color libraries sees something in the story that may be different from their own personal life, and yet at the same time, speaks very clearly to their own life.”
New York City is home to five special Little Free Library book-sharing boxes—one for each borough—highlighting books that feature diverse content, characters, and creators. The neighborhood libraries are part of the Little Free Library (LFL) nonprofit organization’s national Read in Color initiative, which will distribute 20,000 diverse books and 100 Little Free Libraries across the country this year.
New York’s Read in Color libraries are being established by LFL in partnership with H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths’ founder Heather Butts and various local nonprofit organizations. We are grateful to work alongside these outstanding collaborators.
“It is an honor to partner with the Little Free Library organization on the Read in Color initiative, which brings diverse books to Little Free Libraries globally,” said Butts. “Being part of giving individuals the ability to see the world from different perspectives is immensely gratifying. We are proud that the 5 Boroughs initiative in New York City is bringing this program to readers in Staten Island, Queens, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn, and we look forward to the true change these Little Free Libraries will bring to the communities where they are installed.”
H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths thanked the following for making its college readiness conference with Curtis High School possible: Curtis teachers and staff, Con Edison, NY1, Staten Island Advance, the Mayor's Office, Principal Greg Jaenicke, Marie Rodriguez, Tom Hepworth, Joseph Baratta, Clementine R. Butts, Lu Willard, Thrive NYC, the HEALTH for Youths Board and Volunteers and of course all the amazing students and parents in attendance.
According to Heather Butts, the founder of the nonprofit H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths and the steward of numerous Little Free Libraries on Staten Island, anonymous donations of nonperishable foods in many of the tiny libraries have been regularly appearing, intended for anyone who may need them during the COVID-19 pandemic.
NYC Service, representatives from three city departments, and the 120th police precinct joined nonprofit Citizens Committee for New York City (CCNYC) and volunteer-led H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths for a community cleanup on Staten Island’s North Shore. Several representatives from the Mayor’s Office and City agencies took part in the cleanup and beautification effort as well.
H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths received a $1,000 Love Your Block grant back in December to implement the spring project. Its volunteers used the grant money to purchase materials needed to clean up and plant flowers in a bare space outside the police precinct. The youth who took part in the clean up are all involved in the juvenile justice system on Staten Island; aside from gaining the experience of working as a team and learning the intricacies of gardening, court involved youth were given the opportunity to positively work alongside local members of law enforcement. In addition, the youth participants had an opportunity to hear directly from officers that their youth service positively impacted the precinct as well as the overall youth-police relationship on the North Shore. In addition to planting a garden, the youth volunteers learned
about healthy eating, exercise, and compost from various volunteers and experts.
Love Your Block – A Public-Private Partnership Consecrated in Grassroots Civic Action The Love Your Block program is a special partnership between CCNYC and NYC Service that provides a unique opportunity for city residents to beautify their neighborhoods. Annually, Love Your Block offers 50 resident-led volunteer groups a cash grant of $1,000 to transform city blocks. The City of New York matches the grant by providing services from the Departments of Parks and Recreation, Transportation, and Sanitation to help improve the block. Examples of these city services include trash collection, vacant lot cleanup, graffiti removal, dead tree removal, tree planting, and providing woodchip mulch for gardening projects, repair of and installation of street signs and street lights, and traffic safety surveys.
About Citizens Committee for New York City (CCNYC) Founded in 1975, CCNYC provides grants up to $3,000 to low-income neighborhood groups to improve their communities. Grants are awarded to resident-led, volunteer community groups to design and implement their own neighborhood projects. These grantees are hyper-local, below-the-radar groups of ordinary New Yorkers overlooked by foundations, corporations, and other funders in the city. Projects range from creating community gardens and school murals to those supporting access to fresh affordable produce and grassroots anti-gun violence initiatives.
Janine Flores, one of H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths' first students to pilot our program, will represent St. John's University in a full-page promotional ad in Seventeen magazine this summer. The 21-year-old biology major at St. John's was selected out of more than 180 students who competed for the honor.
Janine "embodies everything St. John’s stands for,” said Beth M. Evans, Vice President of Enrollment Management. The office held the contest in January to choose the student who will be featured in a full-page ad promoting the University in the June/July metropolitan issue of Seventeen.
On January 18, the Board of Directors of the United Nations Association of New York selected the St. John's University UNA-NY Student Alliance in Support of the UN Millennium Development Goals as the most successful student alliance among schools in the UNA-NY Chapter. The St. John's University UNA-NY Student Alliance is a H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths partner. One of our first pilot students, Janine Flores, is the president and H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths' founder, Heather Butts, is the Student Alliance's faculty advisor. Congratulations to all!
H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths co-founder Heather Butts along with Christopher Wood, Chris Rivera, and Piotr Marczewiski ran the ING NYC Marathon on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011. Our team raised $2,827. H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths was named an official ING NYC Marathon 2011 charity. This was our first year participating. A big thank you to our runners and supporters!
The New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc. (NYCON) is pleased to announce the second and final round of Strengthening Communities Fund (SCF) grant recipients. NYCON received a nationally competitive $1,000,000 two-year stimulus grant from the Strengthening Communities Fund (SCF) Nonprofit Capacity Building program created and funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. NYCON has granted a total of $600,000 in funding awards to 31 Project Partners. The grants were made during two competitive funding rounds to community and faith-based nonprofits in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx who are providing services that are vital to the economic recovery efforts. H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths was name a Project Partner.
Janine Flores ‘12SJC, a junior biology major in St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, was recently chosen to be part of the inaugural class of Obama Scholars – an award entirely funded by President Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize award. Students receiving this prestigious award will have part of their education paid for from the $125,000 gift President Barack Obama made to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF). HSF then selected twelve Obama Scholars based on essays they wrote about their interest in teaching science-related fields.