Arden Recommends: Volunteering

Poverty. Of adults with the lowest literacy levels, 43 percent live in poverty, and 70% of adult welfare recipients have low literacy levels. There is a clear correlation between more education and higher earnings, and between higher educational scores and higher earnings.Adult Literacy Facts

img_9693-jpgI first became aware of how low literacy cripples a person in 2004 when I began volunteering for an organization called Charlotte Reads.

I later became the director of this organization. Through it, I helped bring awareness of how important literacy is to a community’s overall health for years.

Many folks reached out to me for ways to plug into the effort. One of those people was Tonia Lyon. At the time, she worked at WBTV and volunteered for an up-and-coming church called Elevation.

She and I sat down at a local bookstore, she shared her story, the story of Elevation, and asked if Charlotte Reads would be willing to accept a donation from the church.

I said, “Of course!”

I didn’t realize to what I agreed. Within months I was at table with the leader of this church, Steven Furtick, and hearing his vision for giving to the Charlotte community. A few months after that I stood on a stage and accepted a check from the church on behalf of Charlotte Reads. I remember leaving the service early (I had to rush back to my home church because I was serving on the pastor search committee at the time) and thinking… that was pretty cool. I hope they make it.

Elevation Church is now one of the fastest growing churches in the world and Pastor Steven Furtick’s vision has led to million upon millions accepting Jesus as their Savior and constantly volunteering their time to communities across our nation.

You’d think, with the vastness of this church, there would be little time for the little guy; or little school as it were. But, Tonia and her beating heart of compassion wants to impact one school to help its students increase their reading levels. To be fair, her leadership impacts millions, but for some reason it’s the seemingly simpleness of this project that has captured my heart.

And I want it to capture yours too. I’d like to invite any of you who can, to serve as a volunteer for Blakeney READS.

Blakeney READS is an Elevation Outreach initiative to help Quail Hollow Middle School students succeed. More than 400 students at the Title One school in South Charlotte are behind in reading comprehension. Without support, these students are more likely to fail in other subjects like math, history, and science. Volunteers get paired up with a student serve just one hour per week for 14-weeks.

Please consider volunteering. Please share this post. In the coming months, I hope to find additional ways for us to support Blakeney READS. In the meantime, if you cannot volunteer your time, but would like to donate to it, please click here and I’ll make sure all the money gets to the church.

Let’s make Arden’s Book Club more than a great place to get book reviews for our own reading pleasure. Let’s be people of action and ensure all who want to read, can read.

Support Arden’s Book Club (Kickstart Link)


I created a kickstart crowdsourcing campaign to ask you, my readers, to help Arden’s Book Club to expand to reach more readers. Giving to the campaign will enable me to purchase more books, contact more authors, and attend book festivals (which tends to lead to even more book and author contact).

Many have asked why I buy books instead of borrowing them from lending libraries. The two big reasons are:

  1. Most libraries have long waiting lists for the most recent books which means I can’t give you the latest and greatest reads because I’m simply sitting on that list with others.
  2. I take notes and dog-ear the pages of the books I read for review.  These are big no-no’s with other people’s books.

I humbly ask you for your financial support. I love giving my book club to you for free. Please help me continue to provide for you by donating today.

Here’s the link to Arden’s Book Club’s Kickstarter Campaign.

WBTV Segment (September 14, 2015)

I got the pleasure to be on WBTV with the awesome Christine Sperow Monday, Sept. 14 to discuss three books you’ll all want to read. You can check out the clip from my segment by clicking here.

11988387_10153017531566447_5786932012154039822_nIf you watched the segment, yay! If you didn’t, why not? Here’s another chance. Click here. It’s important!

So, as I mentioned on air, I wanted to give a little bit more information about Carolina Broadway and Verse & Vino

Carolina Broadway Theatre, located in Hickory, NC, creates Broadway’s next generation of performers. CBT provides a transition into the professional world for aspiring artists. Productions involve guest stars and artistic staff selected from LA & NY, who become mentors and business contacts for these young aspirants. The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold, the first book mentioned in segment, is currently being workshopped at CBT with Broadway actors. What an amazing opportunity for one and all! 

Alice in Wonderland continues to astound and create new stories 150 years after its original release. This fall, Gregory Maguire will be in Charlotte as part of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation’s Verse & Vino on his book tour for After Alice. In true Macguire style, he takes a side story from Alice in Wonderland and creates a quirky novel all his own. Get caught up on all things Alice with The Story of Alice by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst before Macguire releases his book!

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson is well-recognized and loved by a lot of folks. I couldn’t get into it, but that doesn’t mean you should read it! It has not ties to any community events, but we could create one.

Thanks for watching and reading with me!