This is how you, and a man named Michael, are changing the lives of disadvantaged children in Ireland… one book at a time.
An SVP volunteer of 19 years, 80-year-old Michael is a man of many talents…
In his youth he was an engineer. He sings in a barbershop chorus. And through his work with SVP, he is tireless in bringing the magic of books, literacy, and learning to kids in Ireland’s most deprived areas.
It began in Michael's nearby parish in west Dublin. "It's a challenging area," Michael told us, "A lot of the kids are not ready for school."
At a time when 1 in 6 Irish adults has difficulty understanding basic written text, Michael knows the importance of children’s literacy... "I came across a book called 30 Million Words. Researchers found that kids who started school knowing more than 1,000 words do much better in the long term."
It was this discovery that set Michael on his mission to get books into the homes of every family he visits through SVP.
And it was your donations to SVP shops that provided Michael with all the books he needed.
"I was chatting to somebody in the shop and apparently St Vincent de Paul get lots of children's books donated. More than they can sell," says Michael, "so I said I'll find good homes for those books". And with that, 'WordPower' was born.
"Books help children to get 'school ready'. It's so important. If a kid is prepared when they go to school, they will prosper." Michael, SVP Volunteer
Today, Michael's books reach hundreds of kids in west Dublin and all across the East Region of Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow.
"We're one of the few organisations that go into people's homes," says Michael. And the programme is loved by children and parents alike...
"One little girl would see me coming with my blue plastic bag of books and she would run up to me, so excited, grab the bag and run off to read! She was only about seven or eight," Michael remembers with a warm smile.
Based on true stories from people helped by SVP. Images, names and some details have been changed for confidentiality.