Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Kids’ Reading Rooms

Two apartments in Spring Branch are now supporting young readers because one district educator has made a dream about children’s reading rooms come true.

A Rummel Creek Elementary staff member and her husband have collected gently used and donated children’s books, shelving and storage units, and cozy furniture for special reading rooms inside two Spring Branch apartment complexes.

The efforts of Interdisciplinary Coach, or iCoach, Trish Schappell and her husband, Vincent Schappell, to put more books in children’s hands, improve reading, and gain area volunteers to help staff the two apartment centers paid off recently. A web-based funder, the Pollination Project, became an online Johnny Appleseed to the cause.

A $1,000 grant from the Pollination Project, a Dallas-based nonprofit organization that plans to give away $1,000 a day in seed money to anchor grassroots initiatives like the Schappells, was recently announced.
In her role as a district iCoach, Trish helps provide staff development for teachers and staff, writes SBISD math curriculum, works with testing students, models the lessons for others, and supports students and teachers with instruction.
The project grant is helping the Schappells create a nonprofit organization, which they hope will help the fledgling organization gain more donors and support.
The Schappells founded Tthe Kids’ Reading Room children’s literacy areas in two apartments. The Castlewood Apartments are located at 7100 Westview Drive, and the Gentry House Apartments are at 9001 Kempwood Drive.
“Our purpose is to promote literacy and to instill the love of reading in children in their own apartment environment,” Trish says. “The rooms are meant to be places where kids can be safe, be surrounded by colorful books, have book discussions, and build their leadership skills. Kids come and read books, or are read to during story time.”

Children can earn weekly prizes, too, by logging in the amount of time they read daily.
The grant worthy effort has not been easy, but Spring Branch ISD has helped by providing background checks on volunteers at no cost. School library books that have been discarded have also been donated.

A Boy Scout, Josh Castro-Donathan of Northbrook High, who is working on an Eagle Scout award, has canvassed neighborhoods for more book donations, and his family has collected 17 bookshelves for the two current The Kids’ Reading Rooms.

Trish worked with Executive Service Corps of Houston (ESCH) to gain nonprofit status, but it will take about a year to earn official status from the IRS. They face a healthy, but uphill struggle to put more children’s books in student homes.

“We have no funds,” Trish confides. “If I buy something, I purchase it myself. My husband and I continuously work to collect donations of books, shelving, couches and other decorative items. Friends, teachers, family and neighbors have donated items. It’s an ongoing thing, and my car and garage are always filled with new and exciting things for the rooms.”

More volunteers are needed. Training is provided. “I’m always looking for new volunteers, especially for the summer. I work in the rooms many times, but with work and meetings, we’d like to get more volunteers,” Trish says.

All the volunteering and work have an upside. “I am on Cloud Nine! Making an impact and difference in the lives of these kiddos means everything to me. I can’t stop working to create more Kids’ Reading Rooms,” she says.

“I know there will be more! The sky is the limit!” Trish proclaims of the growing need for reading centers in apartments.

The Pollination Project was founded by Dallas entrepreneur Ariel Nessel, who set a goal of awarding a $1,000 grant daily for 365 days in 2013. He wanted to award grants directly to people who were doing good instead of donating to big, or more traditional types of charities, according to news reports.

For more details about The Kids’ Reading Rooms, call Trish Schappell at 281-235-9620, or contact her through the following email addresses:

Learn more about this effort on Facebook:


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