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Montville Schools Help Peace Corps Build a Library

Sue Marinello

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 • 11:15pm

MONTVILLE, NJ - Susan Stine is a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) and the Peace Corps Project Partner to Hilldale Elementary School. Together, the school and Stine are working on Hilldale’s Peace Corps Project - the Community Library Project - which they share with Stine.

This June, Stine visited with fifth graders at Hilldale to talk about her Peace Corps experiences and to bring them up to date on the progress of the Community Library Project.

For two years the small town of El Coyote in the Dominican Republic has been dedicated to building a library. Through Stine, Hilldale Elementary School helped to provide needed reading materials and support to the library.

The students organized a Montville-wide Spanish Book Collection throughout the Montville Township Public School District. Six of the township’s seven schools collected books to help Hilldale reach its goals. When Stine visited on June 10, the students presented her with more than 200 Spanish language books. In addition, the students donated more than $1,000 to the Community Library Project through Stine’s Peace Corps Project web site (https://donate.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=14-517-025).

A PowerPoint, “Peace Corps Cares,” was prepared and presented by the students as a thank you to Stine for her work with them and for her service to the United States and the world.

Upon her return to the Dominican Republic, Stine sent the students some yucca bread samples which they enjoyed during the last week of school. They particularly liked the garlic flavored bread!

Stine also sent pictures which were taken as she gave the books to the people of El Coyote.

“Last night my library committee had a meeting,” Stine wrote. “I presented all the books we brought back. Everyone was super excited to see the books. Thanks to all the books your school donated we will be able to run a reading club this summer in the community.”

Hilldale’s students agreed that it is exciting to know that the books collected will have a direct impact this summer.

El Coyote is a rural community. Most of the 537 residents are helping with the library project.  Prior to the Hilldale contributions, the community had raised $1,500 and collected 165 books, but most were too advanced for the majority of El Coyote residents. The books Hilldale collected and donated are better suited to the needs of the community.

In a census of the village, 61% of adults have not graduated from the eighth grade. The reading levels of adults have further deteriorated over the years due to a lack of access to books. Of the 149 households that make up El Coyote, 47% do not have a single book in the home. Among families that have a book, 14% have only the Bible. In El Coyote, 60% of families make less than $125 a month and the nearest city with a bookstore is over an hour away.

The Governor of Samaná has committed to fund repairs to a community building that will house the library.

Additionally, Stine and community members have also received a grant from USAID, a U.S. government development agency. The $5,000 from this grant will be used to purchase furniture, computers, and some books. Despite these funds, the library still needs $5,628 to cover the cost of the remaining construction materials.

Hilldale students and staff hope to continue to help the Community Library Project reach its goals. Donations can be made at Stine’s Peace Corps Partnership Project web site. (https://donate.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=14-517-025)

Contributors should mention Montville or Hilldale’s Peace Corps Project.

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