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Free Bookmobile Earns Renewed Funding for Community Foundation’s iREAD Project
Written by admin, December 15th, 2017   

yo leo

When we started giving away books to people throughout Sonoma County, some said it was a quaint idea. They said that books were a dying artifact of the pre-digital age, and that kids wouldn’t be interested. We’re glad we didn’t listen! Because it turned out that not only do children still love to read books printed on real paper, but they love to be read to by their family members. And it’s a good thing, because these activities turn out to be crucially important in the development of language centers in young brains.

Community Foundation of Sonoma County, in partnership with the Cradle to Career coalition, is at the front in supporting our local families’ early reading habits. One of their simplest yet most important programs is iREAD, the promotion of reading in the home to young children. The Free Bookmobile is delighted to have earned renewal of grant funding to continue our work in supplying the books these families will need, especially low-income, rural, and otherwise access-challenged families, as well as education and encouragement. We had a great first year on the job and look forward to expanding our reach in 2018, serving 0 – 5 year-olds throughout the region, including dedicated visits to AVANCE Parenting Classes and Pasitos playgroups for young families who are primarily Spanish-speaking.

Reading to a child in your life is one of the most important things you can do to help them enter kindergarten ready to learn and succeed in school!

As a parent or family member you can:

  • READ TO YOUR CHILD EVERY DAY.  Just fifteen minutes a day makes a huge difference in your child’s language development, and helps them be ready to learn in school.
  • READ FROM DAY ONE.  The first eight months of a baby’s life is a peak period for language development.
  • READ IN ANY LANGUAGE–Or use the book to tell a story in your home language.
  • READ EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE, from street signs to cereal boxes.
  • NARRATE YOUR DAY: Talk with your child while you’re doing activities together.
  • ANYONE CAN READ TO CHILDREN: Older siblings, aunts and uncles, grandparents.


Bethlehem Foundation Supports Local Seniors with Increased Funding
Written by admin, November 18th, 2017   

We are deeply grateful to the Bethlehem Foundation for their expanded support toward our 2018 program year! Bethlehem is our primary backer for the important services we provide to local senior citizens and will help us reach more than 3,500 elders over the next 12 months. Much of this outreach will happen right at these individuals’ doorsteps, at low-income apartment complexes and senior living facilities. This means that mobility challenges will not be a barrier and these eager readers will be able to count on regular appearances by their favorite free rolling library. The Free Bookmobile helps folks stay connected to their culture, their community, and their grandchildren — we encourage seniors to take extra books to read to all the little ones in their lives.

Bethlehem Foundation’s creation is a unique and inspiring story: Formed on September 16, 2013, it was funded with proceeds from the sale of 801 Tupper Street, a 159-unit apartment building located in Santa Rosa, California. The building was known as the Bethlehem Towers, a high-rise apartment community serving low- to very low-income seniors. Bethlehem Towers opened its doors in 1972 and was managed by a volunteer Board of Directors for 40 years. When the 40-year HUD loan that financed the community was paid off, the Board was approached by Reiner Communities, a firm that acquires and manages multifamily affordable housing properties, which agreed to complete an extensive renovation and extend the affordability of the project for an additional 55 years. The Board of Directors of Bethlehem Towers, Inc. saw this as a win-win situation. The housing for low-income seniors could remain in place, and proceeds from the sale could fund this new foundation dedicated to promoting an enhanced quality of life for senior adults residing in Sonoma County, California.

The Free Bookmobile is very proud to be a part of those enhancement efforts. Thank you!

Free Bookmobile Serves Crisis Victims at Fire Evacuation Centers
Written by admin, October 22nd, 2017   

Sonoma Strong

With the devastating wildfires displacing so many of our friends and neighbors, it was a privilege to put our rolling resource into action visiting the fire evacuation centers across Sonoma County. While many of the adults we encountered were hopeful about the condition of their homes, some already knew that they had lost everything. Our book-giving service was a small consolation in a disaster that will deeply change the region for years to come. But we were there to listen to their stories, and to offer an opportunity to relieve their stress and anxiety, at least for a while, by getting lost in a good book. Fortunately our appearances were especially helpful for the displaced children who did not have much else to do.

On our tour we witnessed a tremendous outpouring of support from all corners of our community. Everywhere we went there were volunteers lined up to give whatever was needed, and stockpiles of crucial supplies coming in daily. What an inspiring demonstration of people helping each other directly! Peer-to-peer support is the foundation of the Free Bookmobile’s program model and it was on dramatic display here when the chips were down. For our part, we are now seeking out the neighborhoods and schools that are hosting families most affected by the fires, so we can prioritize them on our routes. Favorite books on the shelves are part of what makes a house a home, and we’re anxious to help people replace what they’ve lost.

Free Bookmobile Serves 100,000 Patrons
Written by admin, October 1st, 2017   

Wow, it seems like just yesterday that we decided to start driving around the county giving away books! Conceived in 2009 as a family service project to introduce the Weaver Boys to the joys of giving back, the Free Bookmobile began life in a little white surveyor’s trailer. It turned out that people liked browsing books from other people’s libraries, and they loved taking them home to read and share. Well, the bookmobile is now the premier program of the Sonoma County Public Library Foundation, operating from a purpose-built Maroney 24′ Freightliner, and the Weaver Boys are now 15 & 17 years old. (The photos below shows our very first day, when they were 7 & 9.)

Oh yeah…we just passed 100,000 people served! And counting, as we continue to expand our routes and grow our impact throughout Sonoma County, especially reaching those who are most challenged for access to books: low-income and rural children, families and seniors. We have so many people and organizations to thank for getting us to where we are today, it wouldn’t be right to single out a few (though this news section is a good place to read about them). Just know, all of you, from the major foundation supporters to those who just gave a couple books, that a new generation is growing up around here with a special love for reading, and you helped make that happen. We know because we hear them squeal and run to our doors when we pull up to the curb. Some first experienced us as wee tikes — and now we serve them at their high schools!

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you so much for your support of Sonoma County’s only public-access bookmobile! Here’s to the next 100,000 patrons…


Healdsburg Kiwanis Club Makes First Donation to Free Bookmobile
Written by admin, September 24th, 2017   


We are always thrilled to make new friends and partnerships toward fulfilling our mission. This one got off to a quick start! Just days after receiving a donation from Healdsburg Kiwanis Club toward our operations in their area, we were proud to collaborate on their first-ever Family Safety Fair at the Healdsburg Community Center. It was a great turnout as children received new bicycle helmets, participated in a skills rodeo, had lunch with their neighbors…and of course took home great free books!

Kiwanis Clubs have a wonderful service tradition. From the Healdsburg Club: We are members of the community, dedicated to the children of the world. We have been in Healdsburg since November 1923 and continue to support many Healdsburg organizations, families, children and important community needs. Some of the programs we support, sponsor or offer include the Relay for Life, Healdsburg High School’s Key Club, the Fitch Mountain Footrace, the Book Project, Christmas Tree Sales, FFA Food Sales, Pancake Breakfast, and many high school scholarships.

Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers, dedicated to changing the world, one child and one community at a time. The name “Kiwanis” means “we trade” or “we share our talents.” It was coined from an American Indian expression, Nunc Kee-wanis. No problem is too big or too small. Why? Because working together, members achieve what one person cannot accomplish alone. When you give a child a chance to learn, experience, dream, and succeed, great things happen!

Finley Foundation Provides Major Funding of Free Bookmobile for Sixth Straight Year
Written by admin, August 4th, 2017   

The Free Bookmobile of Sonoma County looks forward to another record-breaking year of service to access-challenged people throughout the region thanks to the renewal of major funding by the Ernest L. and Ruth W. Finley Foundation! We are extremely grateful for this generous investment in local literacy that will keep us rolling to the schools, neighborhoods and senior housing where we are needed most. Finley Foundation support has been crucial to our growth in reach and impact, helping us continue our streak of 20% annual gains in service outcomes. Grants like theirs also enable us to focus our attention on growing the value of our service, as we continue to improve the effectiveness of our routes and the quality of books we offer on board.

The Finley Foundation has been a tremendous source of funding for community programs throughout the North Bay since 1985, particularly in the areas of child welfare, health and human services, and arts and culture. Some of their high-profile projects include the Finley Community Center & Aquatic Center and the Social Advocates for Youth Finley Dream Center.

Community Events Featuring Book Drives Coming in July
Written by admin, July 9th, 2017   

My Gym Santa Rosa & KBBF 89.1 FM

We are excited about two upcoming family-friendly community events that are also opportunities for you to help us stock our shelves with great books! On Friday, July 21, My Gym Children’s Fitness Center in north Santa Rosa will be hosting their Family Fun Night and the Free Bookmobile will be there to join the festivities from 5:30 – 7 Pm. This is a great chance to bring us your new and gently used kids’ books, as well as to check out what My Gym has to offer. The experts in children’s fitness, My Gym has developed an extraordinary program and facility devised to help children 6 weeks thru 10 years of age develop physically, cognitively and emotionally. Their structured, age-appropriate, weekly classes incorporate music, dance, relays, games, special rides, gymnastics, sports and more. Children have loads of fun as they gain strength, balance, coordination, agility and flexibility while developing social skills, confidence and self-esteem. Local owner Lorna Brown has been a Free Bookmobile supporter for years and we’re really looking forward to a good turnout.

On Saturday, July 29, KBBF Bilingual Radio 89.1 FM will be hosting a special family event at the station (1700 Corby Avenue). Scheduled for 1 – 4 Pm, KBBF will be featuring notable artists’ displays, local non-profits, hands-on art activities for children, and lots of yummy food for purchase as a fundraiser for this all-volunteer radio station. And of course the Free Bookmobile will be offering fabulous books to all in attendance. We would be grateful for any bilingual and/or Spanish-language books you could bring that day to boost our future outreach to the county’s low-income Latino communities. Hope to see you there!

Chocolate & Cinema Returns to the Rialto Cinemas on August 3
Written by admin, June 30th, 2017   


Come enjoy a fun event for the whole family while supporting the Free Bookmobile’s parent organization, the Sonoma County Public Library Foundation. This year our fundraiser features a big-screen presentation of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” at Rialto Cinemas in downtown Sebastopol. A bag full of specialty chocolates and a small popcorn is included in the admission price, just $20 in advance or $25 per person at the door.

This fundraiser for the Library Foundation supports local literacy and all branches of the Sonoma County Public Library. Join us for this all-time classic film! Raiders of the Lost Ark on Rialto Cinemas #1 theater – the big one. Our special thanks to the Rialto staff and the local chocolatiers that are donating their delicious treats.

Purchase tickets now by clicking here to visit the event page – $20 in advance ($25 at the door).

Rotary Club of Rohnert Park-Cotati Supports Local Service by Free Bookmobile
Written by admin, May 1st, 2017   

Rotary Club of Rohnert Park-Cotati

The good folk of the Rotary Club of Rohnert Park-Cotati have been believers in the Free Bookmobile mission for a number of years now. Their members have helped connect us with valuable resources to advance that mission, and have continued that support this spring with a financial donation toward area services. We are very happy to be associated with this hard working charitable group, current home of the District 5130 Governor, Wulff Reinhold.

In addition to engaging in fun projects like the distribution of children’s dictionaries that the Free Bookmobile joins, Rotary Club of RP-Cotati are people of action even outside their borders. One of their most recent endeavors was the reforesting of Middletown subsequent to the devastating fire. A total of 14 club members, their family and friends joined over 350 other Rotarians, Interactors, and community volunteers in planting 4,000 Ponderosa pine seedlings in a Middletown park. Way to go, Rotary, and thank you for keeping us rolling to give away great books throughout your region!

Active 20-30 Club of Santa Rosa #50 Invests in New Books for Free Bookmobile Shelves
Written by admin, April 10th, 2017   

Active 20-30 Santa Rosa #50

We are delighted to grow our partnership with the wonderful local Active 20-30 Club of Santa Rosa #50! Active 20-30 US & Canada provides young adults with an opportunity for personal growth, friendships and leadership development while improving the quality of life for the special needs children in their community. The Santa Rosa club dates back to 1929 and these young professionals do a great job of raising money and volunteering, with an emphasis on assisting low-income Santa Rosa and Windsor families. We have been honored to work with them on a number of special events that have reached out to provide kids with holiday parties, back-to-school supplies, and more.

The club has just made a substantial donation from their Youth Benevolence Fund (YBF) to help us buy new Spanish-language and bilingual books for our shelves, books which are always in high demand on our travels. The bilingual books in particular make it easy for all household members to participate in the crucial activity of reading to young children each day. They also help people of all ages who are learning English as a second language. Thank you, Active 20-30 Santa Rosa!

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