We recently had the privilege to sit down with some of our readers who attend our mobile libraries in Melbourne and talk about what reading means to them; and as always happens, we all walked away with fuller hearts and a steadfast commitment to keep doing what we’re doing, because… reading matters.
We met with Phillip at a community centre in Mitcham, where people who are experiencing homelessness, or are vulnerable or at risk, can come and have a meal. Sitting with Phillip in the grounds, under the shade of a tree, he told us he doesn’t come for the meal, but for the books.
‘I feel blessed by The Footpath Library,’ he said, candidly. ‘I’m able to come here and actually take some of the books they give me. My latest excitement is Falling Leaves, that’s a beautiful book.’
Our lovely chat with Phillip reinforced, yet again, that The Footpath Library makes a difference by providing access to books and reading. A book can make a difference in a person’s life, and I’m sure that we can all think of a time when a book has touched us, changed us in some way.
Phillip summed it up beautifully when he told us when he reads, he is the architect of his own imagination.
‘Reading is important because you use your imagination; all the furniture, all the characters, all the voices of the people, you have to think them up for yourself. You have to translate the words into your mind… there’s a lounge room, that I’ve never been to before, and I remember that lounge room because I imagined it when I read that book. You’re virtually the architect of your own imagination and you build things… I build everything in my mind (when I read a book).’
I’ve always firmly believed that books are important, but what I also love about The Footpath Library is how important the social connection is for people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. The opportunity to talk with volunteers and other readers about books, and whatever they choose to talk about, is something very special. And, Phillip reminded us of this while we talked.
‘They’re not just standing there giving out books, they’re touching people’s lives,’ he said. ‘It’s not just a book giveaway, it’s a love giveaway… they smile, they might put their hand on your shoulder… they’re loving people with books and it’s such a blessing; they’re just really kind and caring.’
When the world can seem such an unkind place for people who are experiencing hardship, it’s wonderful to know that the simple gesture of a book and a smile can make a person’s day.
Your support makes a big difference too – as a small, grassroots organisation, every donation we receive goes a long way to ensuring we can continue to make books and reading accessible to people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. If you’re able to make a tax deductible donation at this time, we thank you, because it matters.