After five years and four months, the end of December marks the end of my time as CLiF’s Communications Manager. I’m pursuing my dreams of being a professional writer, going full-time at my other part-time job as a staff writer for my local paper, with two books on the way. It’s time for me to focus on my writing career, something CLiF has been hugely instrumental in supporting.
When I started at CLiF, I was hoping to get into my dream MFA program to study fiction. On my second day at CLiF, I got the call that I’d been accepted (this was when I learned I did not get great cell reception at the CLiF office. The program’s director was cutting in and out but I heard “loved your work,” and “package in the mail,” and was pretty sure I’d gotten in). The CLiF team supported my dream from Day One, often asking how the writing’s going, and gave me space to write regular literacy columns, op-eds, blog posts about writing, and more opportunities to hone my writing skills. After all, encouraging kids to write and fall in love with it – as I had at a young age – is a huge part of what CLiF’s all about. We know writing skills are essential to a child’s well-being and future success. Writing has brought me where I am today and I am so grateful to have had the chance to share that passion with children.
During my time at CLiF, I’ve had some amazing opportunities to work with kids and families and help support them in discovering the joy of reading and writing. I’ve gotten to judge kids’ writing contests, help kids find the perfect book for themselves, pore through thousands of photos of happy kids with authors and/or the new books they chose for themselves, see touching notes from incarcerated parents to their children in new books they chose for them, coordinate book drives with dozens of book stores, interact with donors who are also passionate about children’s literacy, and work closely with an incredible team of humans who care deeply for children’s growth and development.
I’ve always enjoyed helping out in the CLiF library. It’s a jam-packed extension of a garage stuffed with thousands of beautiful new books waiting for children to discover them. I like getting to sort through the exciting new books and put CLiF stickers in them for children to proudly write their names, and packing up hundreds of books for book giveaways. It’s like a fun puzzle – this program needs 50 picture books, 75 chapter books, and so on. You get to pick a diverse selection with something for every child and reminisce over some old favorites. Nothing is more exciting than seeing a child discover a new book they love.
One of my first assignments at CLiF was working with a local videographer to develop a series of beautiful videos about CLiF’s work. Here’s the one summarizing all of our programs. I’m proud of that project and the ability to share our work with a large audience.
We also put together a series of videos on reading with young kids (Is there anything better than getting to attend baby time at a library?)
I’ve had the opportunity to discuss CLiF’s work on TV, radio, and podcasts, gotten to hand out books at Kids’ Day in Burlington and baseball games and the South End Art Hop. “You mean it’s free?” incredulous parents asked as their child found a book they couldn’t wait to read. “I get to keep it forever?” is another common refrain amongst the kids we serve. Many of them have never had their own books. As someone who devoured books as a child (and still does), it brings me great joy to help put books in kids’ hands and get them excited about reading.
I’ve also gotten to work with some amazing authors. CLiF has an incredible roster of Vermont and New Hampshire authors, illustrators, poets and storytellers who share their passions with the low-income, at-risk, and rural kids CLiF serves. I’ve had the chance to host virtual Book Club for Grown-ups, featuring our talented presenters who write for kids, young adults, and adults. We even had Dan Brown join us! Plus, Katherine Paterson, who I had written a note to as a child after reading and falling in love with Bridge to Terabithia – and she so kindly wrote back!
I’ve visited prisons and talked to incarcerated parents about sharing books with kids and encouraging strong literacy skills with them. Helping fathers and grandfathers pick out the perfect books for their children is such a rewarding feeling. They’d come up to me and say, “My six-year old daughter loves to dance. Do you have any dancing books?” or “my son really likes basketball. What books would be good for him?” And I’d help them pick out the perfect book, often talking about the books we remembered from our own childhoods.
It’s been a delight sharing my love of reading and writing with children, parents and families, folks who work with kids, and our amazing CLiF team, including passionate volunteers. I’ve cherished these memories and the experiences I’ve had at CLiF. As I move on in my writing career, I’m so grateful for everyone I’ve had a chance to work with here. Thank you for your work helping us keep “opening books, opening minds, opening doors!”
Please stay in touch. You can find me on social media at @enicfrazer or my website. Thank you for these unforgettable opportunities.