It’s bigger than a hobby but smaller than a nonprofit.
The word Hillary Getsey uses to describe Charlie’s Books is project.
Getsey routinely grabs a stack of popular children’s books – titles such as Eric Carle’s The Foolish Tortoise and Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona’s Harvest – and fills the bookshelves of kid-focused non-profit organizations in the area.
Not only is it a project – one with deep personal meaning to Getsey – Charlie’s Books also represents a promise kept.
“That is just my private little initiative,” Getsey said. “It was born out of my sister losing a child during pregnancy. That was super hard on our whole family. We were actively looking for ways to support my sister and her husband through that grief.”
Her sister offered the family a suggestion.
“My sister Vanessa kept saying, ‘We’re going to be fine. We’re going to get through this. Just find ways to show the kids in your life you care,’” Getsey said. “And she suggested as one of those ways to find kids that need books and give them books.”
With her sister’s encouragement, the idea for Charlie’s Books was birthed.
Getsey has always cared deeply about kids and education.
It’s why she recently transitioned from being the chief volunteer officer on the STAUNTON-AUGUSTA FAMILY YMCA’s board or directors to becoming the STAUNTON-AUGUSTA FAMILY YMCA’s tutoring program coordinator with the SAW Tutoring Network.
“It’s been part of who I am for a very long time,” Getsey said. “When I was growing up, most of my early jobs were babysitting; lots of connections with kids right away. When I was in college, my main job was being a peer tutor.”
It continued into her adulthood.
“I also continued doing tutoring after I graduated,” Getsey said. “And since having my kids, I think it’s been cemented in me a lot more.”
STAUNTON-AUGUSTA FAMILY YMCA executive director Josh Cole believe it’s a perfect fit.
“She’s always shown a passion for making access to education equitable,” Cole said. “She was instrumental in bringing Summer Learning Loss Prevention to our YMCA, and she’s been thrilled to see it grow.”
Getsey’s new role includes recruiting and screening volunteers, as well as the administrative tasks for kids signing up to receive help.
“I will be monitoring all the sessions to provide all the support that’s needed, and follow up work to keep things running smoothly,” Getsey said.
As Getsey transitions into the tutoring program coordinator position, she needs to identify more tutors.
“We need adults in the area that are passionate about helping kids succeed, which is really important under our current circumstances” Getsey said. “Anyone who is passionate about helping kids can be a tutor, but it will be especially helpful if they have education experience, or any kind of experience working with groups of children. This will be virtual group tutoring. You need to have a little bit of computer skills, and an interest and ability in working with groups of children.”