Amy Zaslansky

amyAmy is a resident of Bellmore and a mother of three.  While she frequently volunteers in her children’s schools, and single-handedly worked with the three Bellmore elementary schools to establish better recycling and green practices within the district, these actions pale in comparison to her greatest volunteer achievement to date.

Amy came across two teachers from a neighboring town that were fundraising to purchase books to send home with their students.  The teachers wanted to promote summer reading and help the children maintain the reading skills that they’d worked so diligently to achieve during the school year. The teachers explained that many of their students had no books in their homes, and their families did not have the means or ability to provide books and encourage reading. As a lifelong reader and book lover, this quest resonated with Amy.  She realized that in her own home, she had shelves full of books that her family had outgrown, which could be repurposed for children in need. By tapping into her community network, Amy collected over 3,000 books in the first week for donation.

An idea was born…

In 2012, Amy formally founded The Book Fairies, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that collects reading materials for people in need throughout metropolitan New York. Under Amy’s guidance, she has grown her organization from a community effort coordinated from her garage into an established organization housed in a Freeport warehouse. The Book Fairies collects new and/or gently used books and provides them to libraries, schools, teachers and organizations in need, who would not otherwise have the means to obtain them. In addition to their work in collecting books for children in need, The Book Fairies also donates to homeless shelters, social programs, children’s hospitals, and battered women’s shelters.  In coordination with local libraries, The Book Fairies provides free books to commuters local train stations.  Amy’s books are everywhere! Since their inception in 2012, The Book Fairies has donated over 350,000 books to more than 25 school districts and over 100 organizations across Long Island and the greater NY Metropolitan area. Within the Town of Hempstead, Freeport, Hempstead, Elmont, Roosevelt and Uniondale are regular recipients of books.

The Book Fairies also partners with other non-profit organizations in order to maximize her outreach. In addition to running free book fairs where each child selects two free books to bring home, they have also participated in the following programs:

  • Bideawee’s reading to dogs program which bring books and dogs into the classroom to increase literacy (children reading to animals in a nonjudgmental setting);
  • Parent Child home program in Garden City;
  • John Theissen Foundation (Wantagh);
  • Winthrop University Hospital and clinics (Mineola);
  • Uniondale public library;
  • The Interfaith Nutrition Network (Hempstead) (largest soup kitchen on Long Island);
  • United Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County (Roosevelt);
  • Head Start programs in Freeport and Roosevelt;
  • MOMMAS House (Wantagh); and
  • Bellmore Lions Charitable Foundation

The Book Fairies currently leverages a large network of volunteer special needs organizations for the collection, organization and distribution of books.  The Book Fairies’ warehouse provides a safe environment for special needs individuals in the community to learn job skills and gain experience for their resumes. In addition, many local school, community, and private groups organize book drives on behalf of The Book Fairies. As word of their work has spread, The Book Fairies has an extensive waiting list, with many teachers seeking specific requests to run reading programs that their districts cannot fund.

Amy’s simple idea of repurposing books to those in need has grown into a fight against illiteracy and its devastating effects. The reading materials that The Book Fairies collect foster literacy and academic success, provide a respite from personal struggles, and nurture a love of reading across age groups.

Amy envisions a world where every child in Long Island and metropolitan New York has access to books in both their homes and schools. She strongly believes that it is through these books that children will increase literacy, expand their imaginations, discover a love of reading and learning, and most importantly, raise their socio-economic levels, providing for better prospects as adults.

Linda Oalican and Damayan Migrant Workers Association

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Linda Oalican is the co founder and Executive Director of DAMAYAN Migrant Workers Association. DAMAYAN means “helping each other”.She went to the University of the Philippines and worked as a Community Development Specialist with the National Housing Authority of the Philippines for 14 years. In 1994, she migrated to the US and worked as a domestic worker to ensure her children’s college education. As a domestic worker for 19 years, she has seen how the physical, mental and emotional well being of Filipina domestic workers have been negatively affected by long hours of work, wages below minimum wage, lack of better working conditions, lack of health care, isolation in their employee’s homes and many years of family separation.
To help her sister domestic workers and community, Linda co founded DAMAYAN in 2002 . On behalf of her organization, she received the Union Square Award in 2004. In 2012, she was honored by the National Domestic Worker Alliance (NDWA) as one of its two national worker leaders. In April 2014, she and a colleague, received the prestigious Wellstone Award for Damayan’s work against modern slavery and labor trafficking of Filipino low wage workers. She is also a current board member of the NDWA.
The Organization:
Damayan is a grassroots organization for, led and run by low wage Filipino women workers. We provide critical services, build wome workers’ leadership, fight labor trafficking, labor fraud andwage theft and demand fair labor standards to promote decent and healthy lives and lifestyles for Filipina workers and their families.

Damayan photo exhibition at North Star Fund

WHAT WE STAND FOR

• Fair labor standards, livable wages and opportunities for economic stability for women.
• Protection, empowerment and family reunification for trafficking survivors.
• Respect and dignity for domestic work and for the women who do the work.
• Grassroots organizing and women workers leadership developmentfor genuine social change.

Damayan provides women labor trafficking survivors the support they need to restore their freedom, assert their basic human rights, reunify their families and move towards economic stability. To improve the economic opportunities of our members, we do workforce development and occupational safety programs. In September of 2015, we launched our first office cleaning workers cooperative, managed by women, to create better jobs and economic stability especially for trafficking survivors.

2 Group - Damayan_20150822_OSHA Training

OUR VICTORIES:

• Helped 25 survivors win Trafficking Visas and reunited a total of 29 new immigrant children in Queens, NY.
• Received the Wellstone Award in 2015 from the Freedom Network USA for outstanding accomplishments in the fight against labor trafficking.
• Helped low wage workers, mostly women recover more than $800k in unpaid wages.
• Organized health fairs for no cost basic health and women’s health screenings servicing an average of 300 workers annually.
• Launched the first Filipino workers office cleaning cooperative in late 2015, able to pay workers $15 per hour.

colette-knuthColette Knuth, PhD

Since 2001, Dr. Knuth has led The Steward Group, a research and education consulting service that works primarily with organizations that are dedicated to providing high quality health care. Dr. Knuth has provided consultation to the US Department of Health and Human Services, US Department of Veterans Affairs and The University of Chicago Hospitals.

She has been on the staff of the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), DePaul University, Stony Brook University, and the College of American Pathologists. Dr. Knuth graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in political science. She received her doctorate in public policy analysis from the University of Illinois. Dr. Knuth serves as the staff liaison to all Foundation committees.

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