Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Get to Know the Advisory Board: Christine Kuznia

First Book's strength comes from its donors and volunteers. In each community it serves, First Book has an Advisory Board of volunteers committed to bringing new books to children in need. Today, we'll get to know the Chair of First Book-Denver Metro's Advisory Board. 

Christine KuzniaName: Christine Kuznia, First Book-Denver Metro Chair
Employer: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hometown: Grand Forks, ND

What is your favorite children's book?
The Paper Bag Princess. Robert Munsch was ahead of his time when he wrote about a strong willed girl who wouldn’t let anyone, not even a dragon or a prince, stop her from being true to herself. This was one of the first books I bought for my niece. Every time I read it, I fall in love with it a little more.
Who is your favorite author?
This is hard – how can you ask a girl to choose! If I’m pushed, then I would have to say, Jane Austen. I have read all of her books, multiple times, and love every one of them, especially Pride and Prejudice. Oscar Wilde comes in at a very close second for his quick witted humor. One of my favorite quotes, actually by Oscar Wilde, is “if one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again there is no use reading it at all.” This rings very true to me. Both of these authors have stories that are still very relevant and every time I pick up one of their books it is a new experience. I love it!
Why do you volunteer with First Book?
So many reasons! I love reading and I can’t imagine growing up without access to books. I practically grew up at the library in my hometown and want to thank all of the librarians who helped grow my passion of reading. They are an invaluable resource to our communities. I was fortunate enough to have a well-stocked library at home, as well, and looking back it was access to books that changed my life and made me appreciate and value reading. When I moved to Denver I learned about the statistics on low income families and the number of books in homes. The data was shocking and called me to action. After learning about First Book and their great mission, I knew that they were the right avenue to help guide a local grassroots effort to end illiteracy. One of the reasons that First Book is such a great organization, is that there is no underlying agenda to our cause. Simply put, we want to make sure every child has access to new reading material in their home. This simple, but strong message brings together people from all walks of life who want to make an impact in a child’s life and help them realize the magic of reading. Another great advantage of First Book is that all of our fundraising efforts go directly to the recipient groups we serve, such as schools and nonprofits that serve low-income and/or high minority populations. As a board, we’ve made the choice to have zero operating/overhead costs so we can ensure that 100% of all donations we receive go to the people who need it most.

Denver is such a wonderful community and has welcomed First Book with open arms. Our board is still young, but we’ve seen great growth in the year and half that we’ve been together. We have great partnerships with Mayor Michael Hancock, the Office of Children’s Affairs, and with stores in Cherry Creek North, like Hermitage Books, Enstrom, and Mici’s. We have recently found more allies in ending illiteracy with the Book Bar, located on Tennyson Street, and Von Melee, the online bookstore and blog. First Book is an organization that everyone can get behind, and I welcome any one who has questions to contact me directly. You can reach me at DenverMetro@firstbook.org or (218) 791-2484. It is going to be a great 2014!!

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