Diane Brownstone grew up one block from the nearest public library. She attributes her love of literature to her early proximity to books. “The public library of my youth gave me an addiction to books that has enriched my life. My wish is to give this experience and pleasure to many other young people.”
Years later, Diane and her husband Clyde created the Brownstone Family Foundation to share the joy of reading with kids in need. The stars aligned when Diane was introduced to First Book while supporting the Reach Out and Read program site at Bellevue Hospital in New York City.
Soon after, her charitable work led Diane to the Office of Advocacy (OOA) of the New York City Administration for Children’s Services. The OOA supports families and youth affected by poverty, limited employment and educational opportunities, discrimination, substandard housing and violence. Many families served by the OOA struggle to fulfill their children’s most basic needs.
Diane recalls her first visit to the office. The room where kids wait, often en route to visit incarcerated parents, “had nothing but an old couch and toys that had to be washed with Clorox.”
Today the room is beautiful, filled with high-quality books for children of all ages. A quilt handmade by Diane hangs from the wall.
Diane’s generosity has also provided books to hundreds of children and families served by the OOA. One of the most gratifying experiences has been to give books as baby shower gifts to first-time teen mothers. The young mothers are grateful for these books, an acknowledgement of their child’s intellectual potential. And though they may lack the resources to purchase books, the mothers know the benefits of reading to their child.
For Diane, the motivation to support programs like the OOA is simple. “Children who don’t have books should have them. They should be accessible, because reading is a treasure for your whole lifetime.”