Southeast Region Spotlight

Beginning December 1, 2006, I will be highlighting on a monthly basis, individuals and/or chapters in my region, that have demonstrated exceptional qualities of leadership with the” Book Drives for Better Lives” altruistic service project/ fundraiser on campus.  The individuals and/or clubs receiving special recognition have lead a superior drive…raising awareness on campus for the book campaign, recruiting volunteers, motivating and educating students and professors at the Planning Session, delegating tasks and ‘rolling up their sleeves’  to ensure that the book drive is a successful, campus-wide event on their campus!

I have had the privilege of working with many wonderful people.  The first recipient of this Award is Whitney Ellis from Golden Key International Honour Society at Florida State University.

Whitney has shown outstanding leadership skills to make the book drive benefiting ‘Room to Read’ a reality – and a success – at FSU!!

She was an Officer in her Golden Key Chapter last spring when we first connected, studying full-time, majoring in Studio Art as well as working a part-time job. She made the decision to lead the drive on campus as she believed wholeheartedly in our mission to help break the cycle of poverty and dependence through literacy…one book at a time.

Whitney and her husband, Josh (who served in Iraq from 2003-2004 and currently the GK  President at FSU) were married in a civil ceremony in May of 2005.  The date that they set for their ‘official’ wedding with guests, gown, reception, etc. was set for May 20,  2006….little did she know when she set the date the year before, that she would willingly be packing boxes of books with Josh and organizing a cadre of volunteers the month of her wedding!!  Whitney, while studying, working part-time and planning for her wedding would come home to her apartment where the second bedroom was overflowing with books!  She was tireless in her approach to organizing the book drive on campus!

Anything that I would suggest to Whitney, she implemented…an article in the campus newspaper, a PSA in the local radio stations to promote the drive, facebook, tabling ( that’s Josh at the table), recruiting volunteers, another club to co-lead the drive,  (this semester we are piloting a program where there will be two pairs of organizations, a total of four clubs, leading autonomous, simultaneous book drives on campus), flyers around campus, working with the recycling department on campus, table tents in the dining halls, inviting her on-campus bookstore to participate and with great frustration, tried to get the off-campus bookstore to participate (met with him in person, drafted and sent a letter to the manager, asked her friends who work at the bookstore convince him to help.)…

Whitney continues in her steadfast commitment to help those in Southeast Asia, who are trying to find hope through education. This morning she told me that she was going to take a little time off of work to make sure that someone was always at the table to answer questions and keep an eye on the collection boxes during their tabling hours this week….

The unrestricted funding that is generated from all of her books to help Room to Read reach out to so many underprivileged children and families is priceless….Thanks, Whitney, for using your gifts of leadership to help others in such a meaningful way…

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