San Francisco Surgeon's Charity Gives Children Better Access To Books!
Reading has always been high on my list of favorite things to do but it wasn’t until my children began to read that I realized the true joy of reading as a parent. As my children grew, I was able to watch them progress academically because they had access to great books. It became clear to me, however, that not all schools had funds to adequately provide enough books for their students and that many inner-city and rural libraries had a shortage of books.
I have a strong commitment to literacy. Many successful people take for granted the availability of reading materials in the home and, after speaking to a number of patients that are teachers, I learned that many of the public schools don’t even have libraries let alone books for children to take home. After speaking with the charitable giving officers from the San Francisco Unified and Oakland Unified School Districts, I learned that many (if not most of the students) had no books at home at all.
At my practice, we began hosting Books for Botox parties which have been a huge success. Then in 2007, I formerly began Beauty for Books™ a California-based 501c3 non-profit organization serving under-funded primary and elementary schools in the United States. The goal of Beauty for Books™ is to generate books and reading materials for schools and children that are in need of reading materials at home. We also raise funds and collect donations for the purchase of books amongst schools.
The organization now includes a group of licensed physicians, nurses (and other health care professionals working under the direction of participating physicians). Participating physicians identify needy schools and educational libraries in their communities that would specifically benefit from the program, and they then create an agreement to provide grade K-8 appropriate books and reading devices that are generated by donations from their respective communities in exchange for free aesthetic services and products provided by the participating physicians and their practices.
Over the past few years the Beauty for Books™ program has collected and donated tens of thousands of books by offering complimentary skin and aesthetic treatments with medical and aesthetic professionals in exchange for books and donations. My program is run annually, usually during the holiday season, at which time family, friends and patients of the respective practice will come together for a fun evening of aesthetic education and complimentary treatments in exchange for donations of selected books that are then given to the school or library that has been selected by the participating medical practice. We do some internal and external marketing to let patient attendees know that in exchange for the donation of five or more new or nearly new K-8 appropriate books, they have the opportunity to randomly draw from a bowl to gain a free service such as Botox or a Restylane injection treatment. This has now evolved thanks to choices of Botox, Dysport or Xeomin, and Juviderm, as fillers, as well as our TMC skin care products and spa services. The first year, we garnered over 1000 books which not only excited me but, as we brought these books to the beneficiary schools, they became excited too.
After discussion with some prominent contributors to other San Francisco charities, we decided to have a gala to celebrate and promote literacy and at the same time have a little fun and learn about beauty by inviting local successful beauty businesses, spas, salons, etc. to attend the gala and set up booths so that party goers could get a small treatment such as nails, hair, facials, makeup, lashes, etc. The businesses loved the interface and the female attendees loved the spa treatments. The men, of course, came more to support (or meet) the great female supporters of the charity. Last year’s gala had over 700 people and the W Hotel in San Francisco admirably donated the facility and helped us create a great event. I also have to give full credit to my wife, Kristin, who has really embraced the idea and turned it into a very worthwhile volunteer project that now has an outstanding board that is taking the Foundation to the next level.
Our mission for literacy is now in its eighth year and while I am happy to say that more and more children have experienced the increased choice of available books and the delights of reading because of our program, the need of our Foundation has never been greater. More and more educational departments are experiencing massive budget cuts that are affecting the educational cornerstone that books provide directly affecting the future of so many children from Kindergarten and on up.
We have commitments to the San Francisco Unified School District, Oakland Unified School District and Marin City- Sausalito School Districts, and estimate that well over 50,000 books have been donated since we started seven years ago.
Our next big leap is to recruit more California aesthetic surgeons to join with us. To participate, physicians must identify geocentric school districts in need and agree to make it a 100% time and materials donation. Ultimately I would love to see this initiative go nationwide. The schools commonly invite me to come to their school and do a reading or talk about becoming a doctor. It’s very gratifying to look at the eager faces of the children as I explain the important impact reading has made on my life and what fulfilling opportunities I have each year due to my access to books and reading.
I tell doctors that are interested in participating in our program that the feeling you get when these kids surround you with appreciation and ambition is really quite fantastic. I’m a firm believer in education and helping these kids get excited about reading and giving them access to books keeps me connected with education in a way I never expected.