An avid reader growing up, Danielle Baker could always be seen with a book. Her passion for reading and a need in the community have resulted in a library for Alma’s Place, a Daybreak shelter in Dayton for young adults developing life skills for independent living.
“I think one of your responsibilities as a citizen is to care for those who cannot care for themselves,” said Baker, who earned a bachelor of arts in social work at Wright State University. “If you come across something that somebody needs help with, you should try to do something.”
Baker discovered the need for a library during her senior practicum at Daybreak. She noticed clients would often go to the downtown Dayton Metro Library while trying to finish high school, earn their GED or search for a job. “I also love reading very passionately so I was hoping to be able to pass that on,” Baker noted. “So I decided I wanted to provide a library for these clients. And they were so excited once they found out what we were doing.”
Creating the library for the 10-bed residential home was the senior capstone experience Baker needed to earn the Engaged Citizenship Studies Certificate from Wright State. To earn the certificate, students complete several service-learning courses, which include community service, and an independent community-based capstone project.
“The certificate program is aimed at helping students develop a sense of themselves as citizen professionals,” explained Cathy Sayer, director of Service-Learning at Wright State. She said Baker’s project embodies that concept because it focuses on a need she saw in her professional work but she took it on as a citizen. The certificate program supports Wright State’s mission to transform the lives of its students and the communities it serves through significant community service.
Baker received encouragement from Ginger Goubeaux, Daybreak’s social worker and Baker’s internship supervisor. Goubeaux just happens to be a graduate of Wright State’s undergraduate social work program, herself, and is working on her master’s of social work at Wright State.
“The library benefits the youth at Alma’s Place because it reinforces the benefits of reading and education, and that really is the basis they need to be successful and make their way into independent living,” Goubeaux explained.
Once Baker got her project proposal approved, she set out fundraising, first getting advice from experienced faculty and staff at Wright State. Though fundraising was a bit intimidating to Baker, she was able to apply skills she learned in previous service-learning classes. She even used social media and a crowd funding website to raise money to buy books. “Teamwork is essential,” stated Baker, who is now pursuing a master of social work degree at the Ohio State University.
Staff in the Learning Resources Center at Wright State helped Baker create a list of age-appropriate books, including popular fiction, as well as dictionaries, thesauruses, writing guides and educational books. She also contacted 2nd & Charles, a used bookstore in Kettering, the Dayton Metro Library and others for book donations and support. People were eager to assist.
During the book collection phase, Baker’s living room looked a bit like a library, itself. “I had books stacked up everywhere,” she said. “And clients were asking if they could check out books before the library was together.”
Baker collected about 300 books and hopes to fill the shelves by the end of the summer. Books appropriate for middle school and high school, especially educational books, are still being accepted through the summer at Wright State’s department of social work in 270 Millet Hall. Call (937) 775-2751 for information.