Library Services Program Closes With a Lasting Legacy

By Eric Steckel
August 12, 2022

Caring volunteers opened the magic of reading to thousands of children
Kim Flom Succeeding by Reading tutor

Kim followed her passion for supporting school libraries and opened the joy of reading for thousands of children.

There is something truly magical about a child picking the perfect book off of the library shelf. The anticipation builds, and their curious minds wonder where the storyteller will take them. And when it’s time to check the book out, they know they have been entrusted with something special and tangible they can take home and cherish. Libraries open up the joy of reading for all!

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For over a decade, Kim Farnham-Flom led Children Rising’s Library Services arm of Succeeding by Reading. Today we say farewell to Library Services with full hearts. With great joy and excitement, Oakland Unified School District now has sufficient funding to resuscitate and operate elementary school libraries throughout the district, especially in underserved community schools. We are delighted to report that our support is no longer needed!

What a proud and inspiring legacy we have to look back on.

Library services started humbly enough when Dave Hendsch, Marian McGaw, and a crew of Succeeding by Reading volunteers rejuvenated the library at Emerson Elementary School. They kept it open and staffed with volunteers for many years through their efforts.

Elmer Strasser as Don Luis Maria Peralta_Library Services

For many years, even in the depths of the COVID pandemic, volunteers like Elmer Strasser—pictured as Don Luis Maria Peralta—shared stories with eager young readers.

Around that time, Kim was winding down a long career in human resources at Safeway. She began tutoring through Succeeding by Reading with an eye open for further opportunities to serve the children.

“Kim began sharing her passion for supporting school libraries in low-income neighborhoods, including storytelling and helping students check out appropriate reading level books,” Randy Roth, Children Rising founder and former executive director, remembers.

Knowing that many other Oakland Unified School District elementary school libraries were not functioning at that time, Randy hired her to further develop the library services arm of Succeeding by Reading. She and her merry band of library services elves resuscitated and staffed long-dormant elementary school libraries, distributed tens of thousands of books to eager young readers, hosted volunteer groups for weekend library cleanup days, and, most touching, read storybooks to rapt audiences of children.

Library services rides off into the sunset.

There is something truly magical about a child picking the perfect book—or books—off of the library shelf. Libraries open up the joy of reading for all!

“Kim’s exemplary service, dedication, and resourcefulness have helped bring about a library renaissance in Title I elementary schools in OUSD. Thanks to Kim’s leadership and many years of service, books have come alive for thousands of elementary school students. Brava Kim!” Succeeding by Reading Program Director Rebecca Buckley said.

As Library Services rides off into the sunset, we thank the passionate, caring volunteers who opened the magic of reading to students in our community schools. You enabled a generation of children’s imaginations to soar through the love of a good story.

If you are interested in volunteering, learn more about opportunities with Children Rising.

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