About Bring Me A Book Franklin

Bring Me A Book Franklin, Inc. is a Florida non-profit (501 (c) (3)) focused on Igniting The Passion To Read in the Young Children of Franklin and adjoining counties in Florida.  ((Federal tax I.D.# 27-1072506)

Directed toward improving literacy and success in school, BMAB Franklin supplies quality books and open-faced bookcases to settings that serve young children, and teaches parents and other caregivers, siblings, teens and community members the critical importance of READING ALOUD TO CHILDREN FROM BIRTH.

As part of BMAB Franklin’s initiative, gift books are provided for pediatricians and health clinics to distribute during well checks for babies and young children.

BMAB Franklin is the first licensee of the Bring Me A Book Foundation based in Mountain View, California and founded by Judy Koch of Palo Alto, California.

Our Story

Bring Me A Book Franklin was launched by Michaelin and Dave Watts with the help of fellow Franklin County resident, Marie Marshall.

Michaelin and Dave were inspired by the vision and dedicated work of their close friend, Judy Koch, founder of Bring Me A Book Foundation and by Brigid Hubberman of the Family Reading Partnership in Ithaca, NY.

The project began as a plan for a small, church-based childcare center.  However, recognizing the need throughout the county the project quickly blossomed into an organization focused on serving all the young children of Franklin County.  Michaelin, Dave and Marie have brought their experiences as a clinical social worker, large corporate CEO, and early childhood educator, respectively, to this effort.

Through a contractual license arrangement and with a shared mission, Judy Koch and her staff at Bring Me A Book Foundation have generously offered, on an ongoing basis, the benefits of their own experiences and valuable resources, brochures, book lists, literacy videos and training modules.


Marie Marshall, Michaelin Reamy Watts, Nancy Ducos (trainer from BMAB Foundation), Dave Watts (left to right)

Judy Koch, founder of Bring Me A Book Foundation

Michaelin and Dave Watts, Founders of Bring Me A Book Franklin

Why the Effort?

Research shows that 90% of human brain development occurs in the first five years of life, and that reading to a child during this developmental period is critical to building skills and foundation blocks on which future literacy and, therefore success in school, is based.

In 1983, the U.S. Department of Education created its first Commission on Reading to explore the reading decline.  Its 1985 report (Becoming a Nation of Readers) included this findings: “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children”.  Jim Trelease, a noted author and lecturer on reading aloud to children writes: “We read aloud to children for the same reasons we talk to them: to reassure; entertain; bond; inform; arouse curiosity; and to inspire.  But reading aloud goes further than conversation when it: conditions the child to associate reading with pleasure; creates background knowledge; builds “book” vocabulary; and provides a reading role model.“ A child who is read to aloud during the pre-school years, for as little as 20 minutes a day, starts school two years ahead of a child who has not received such a benefit.

Why Franklin County?

Franklin County, FL is a sparsely populated county of about 11,500 residents.  It is situated on the eastern end of the Florida panhandle on the Gulf of Mexico......on one of the longest stretch of white sand beaches in North America. The area has been called "Florida's Best Kept Secret" and the "Forgotten Coast". With no high rises, Apalachicola still maintains many of its historic homes and charm. Working fleets of shrimp and oyster boats in the waters of Apalachicola, Eastpoint , Carrabelle, Alligator Point and St. George Island speak to the area's longstanding industry of seafood fishing and processing. Apalachicola oysters are a sought after delicacy.

Apalachicola located at the mouth of the Apalachicola River is Franklin County's largest city with a population of 2700. It was a major cotton port at the time of the Civil War, even housing a French Consulate at that time. In recent decades a number of artists, writers and nature lovers have been drawn to the area's charm and beauty and have made it their home.


In spite of significant tourism, behind the charm and beauty, Franklin County is plagued by economic distress and pervasive poverty.  Over 80% of the school children qualify for free school lunches.  The poverty rate for the state of Florida is 12% while the poverty rate for Franklin County stands at 19%. (U.S. Census, 2000)  Births to unwed mothers and births to teenagers in the county are significantly higher than the Florida State average.

The level of education of the adult population is low with only 68% having a high school diploma, compared to the state average of 80%.  An average of 29% of Franklin County adults function at or below level one literacy, the lowest level of functional illiteracy characterized by adults who are not able to perform the activities of daily living that require basic math or reading skills.


Our Board

Michaelin Reamy Watts, President

Michaelin has been a teacher throughout her adult life beginning with Red Cross and YMCA swimming, and later nutrition and 9th grade science in New York State (1957-1961). From 1979-1998 she practiced as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Georgia and served for many years as the Director of Extra-mural Training at The Atlanta Institute for Family Studies and Adjunct Associate Clinical Professor at Georgia State University.  She holds a B.S. with Distinction from Cornell University (1960) and a Masters in Social Work (M.S.W.) from the University of Georgia 1979).

Marie Q. Marshall, Vice President

Marie is a retired teacher having been licensed to teach in New York, Massachusetts and Florida.  She was Manager of the Franklin County Clinic and statewide Community Liaison for Nemours Primary Care Clinics; Executive Director of Bay, Franklin and Gulf Counties Healthy Start Coalition (for children 0-5); President. Marie directs the Historic Apalachicola Foundation and has experience with numerous Franklin County non-profit organizations.  She has a B.A. in Speech-English, College of New Rochelle and an M.S. degree in Education, Fordham University.

David H. Watts, Secretary/Treasurer

Dave is a retired chief executive of a major publicly owned construction company.  He has been in the construction business for 45 years following service in the U. S. Navy UDT/SEAL Teams.  He is a graduate of Cornell University with a B.A. degree in economics.  Dave has extensive non-profit experience with Boy Scouts of America, university advisory boards, community foundation, hospital board and the California Chamber of Commerce.

Caroline Kienzle, Director

Carrie is a retired librarian.  She has served in Texas as Director of Learning Resources, Irving ISD, 2003-2006; Director Library & Media Services, Irving ISD, 1996-2003; Lead Librarian, Coppell High School, 1994-96, Coppell ISD; Library Media Specialist, Carroll Elem., Carroll ISD, 1992-94; Library Media Specialist, Carroll MS, Carroll ISD, 1991-92.  Her education is: Masters of Library & Information Science, University of North Texas, 1993; Bachelor of Arts, Double Major, History and Education, University of Rhode Island, 1972.

Mason Bean, Director

Mason is an active Florida real estate broker with Century 21 Collins Realty on St. George Island.  He is also a state licensed residential contractor and owned his own contracting firm for 15 years.  Mason is an active community volunteer having served as Chair of the Franklin County, Planning and Zoning Board, Chair of the Franklin County contracting licensing board, President of the Florida Seafood Festival, President of the Apalachicola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, President of the Realtor’s Association of Franklin and Gulf Counties, President of the St. George Island Civic Club, Chief of the SGI Volunteer Fire Dept./First Responders and is presently Chair of the Building Committee, Habitat for Humanity, Franklin County.  He is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS Degree in Education.

Partnerships

BMAB Franklin collaborates with Shoreline Medical (Elizabeth Curry, MD); Eastpoint Medical Center (Sheila Allen, ARNP); Sacred Heart Hospital Apalachicola Clinic (Robert Head, MD); Apalachicola Museum of Art, Franklin County Library and the Tigers/Kits program, the Apalachicola City Library, the Franklin County Consolidated School, the ABC Charter School, private schools (e.g., Baptist Christian School), Head Start centers, local churches (e.g., Hispanic outreach through St. Patrick’s Catholic Church), the Franklin County Health Department, Florida state agencies (Healthy Families, Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida, the Florida Children’s Forum, Dept. of Children and Families), the Franklin Correctional Institution, University of Florida/Shands Hospital Arts in Medicine, and other non-profits and groups serving children and their developmental needs.


Nancy Mueller, Diver/Photographer

Dr. Karen Cadwallader, Franklin County Pre-K

Marie Marshall, director of the Apalachicola Museum of Art

Beth Appleton, Local Cut Paper Artist

Supporters

Michaelin and Dave Watts have donated primary initial and ongoing funding.

Other major donors have been:

  • Doris Campanelli of Brockton, MA and Carmel, CA
  • Alayna and Tom Gray of Carmel, CA
  • Barbara and Dan Martin of Hartsdale, NY
  • Barbara Santry of Carmel, CA

Bring Me A Book Franklin needs your support.

Contributions of service have been provided by:

  • The Bring Me A Book Foundation, Judy Koch (Founder) and its staff: book selection, counsel, ongoing support and inspiration.
  • The Historic Apalachicola Foundation: counsel and participation in our shared vision and programs and use of the Apalachicola Museum of Art for conferences and meetings.
  • Lacye Tiffin: logos and art for posters, bookmarks, tee-shirt design, and background paintings for website.
  • Elizabeth Pennington Cowie: research and writing of grants.
  • Downtown Books, Apalachicola, FL (Dale Julian): major supplier of children's books at generous discounts.
  • Holland & Knight, LLP, Tampa, FL (Eric Almon and Jody Keeling): for pro bono legal services.
  • David and Weezie Reese of Phoenix, AZ for contributing the books, “I Know I Can”, for the first year’s program (authored by David’s sister, Andrea Dunn).