Tis' the season for giving!
With twinkling lights and snow covered streets, many are preparing for end-of-the-year festivities. Not only is this a time to prepare for future endeavors that lie before us in 2019, it is a season when people reach out to friends, family, and their community to give back.
During this holiday season, we have teamed up with Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) to spread the holiday cheer to booksellers and readers around the country. Binc truly makes an impact for those in our industry, and helps booksellers and stores in times of unpredictable financial need. The recent catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Florence and California forest fires is a humbling reminder of how quickly disasters can affect our communities.
Binc is the bookseller industry’s safety net, helping in times of need. As the individuals on the front lines of selling, they are essential to our industry and we couldn’t think of any better way to honor our clients than a donation to Binc on their behalf.
This year we are launching The 12 Days of Giving, The Stories that Shaped Our Community, as a way to recognize and share how booksellers not only impact the community, but the support they have for one another.
For 12 weekdays after Giving Tuesday (November 27- December 12), we will spotlight the stories of individual booksellers who were positively impacted by Binc and the book community. Make sure to follow along as we share stories of how our communities have gathered together to give back to the bookselling industry.
Living and working with tooth and mouth pain can be extraordinarily difficult. A bookseller came to Binc because they needed help paying for a root canal, tooth extraction, and treatment for an inflammation gum tissue. The bookseller had diligently saved money to pay for their needed procedures, but it would still be some time (while living with arduous pain) before they had enough for the dentist to begin treatment. That’s when they decided to come to Binc. Binc stepped in to immediately pay the remaining balance so the bookseller could start treatment right away. The different procedures needed will take over three months, but once they are all complete, this bookseller should have a pain-free mouth.
It’s no secret that single parenting small children is tough under the best of circumstances. When a bookseller, who parents three small children on their own, needed to take a week off work to care for all the kids due to serious illness it sent the family’s financial situation into what could have been a downward spiral. This bookseller holds two jobs –and was still unable to cover their rent due to their loss of income while they stayed home to care for their children. Binc paid one month’s rent, plus an outstanding medical bill to help get this family back on secure financial footing. This allowed the parent to stay home with their sick kids knowing it would not cause them to fall behind on their monthly expenses.
A bookseller, who lives on the East Coast, had a parent pass away who had lived on the West Coast. Missing work, traveling across the country, and needing to pay for the parent’s funeral, was more than this bookseller could afford. Thoughtful colleagues stepped in and raised funds on the bookseller’s behalf. Through Binc’s matching grant program, Binc matched what the community raised – which paid for much of the travel expenses. Binc also provided a separate grant to help pay for the cremation and burial of the parent. With Binc and their community’s help, this bookseller had some of the financial burden lifted off their shoulders during the very difficult time of life when one loses a parent.
A bookseller’s home flooded after a recent hurricane and sustained major damage. Not only was their home flooded and one of their vehicles damaged beyond repair, but most of their belongings in their one-story home were also ruined. Since the storm, the couple had been living with nearby friends while they try and restore what they can. Recently they moved back to their house where they need a new water heater, washer, dryer, kitchen cabinets, drywall, basic furniture, linens, and clothing. Binc provided a grant to help pay for appliances, building materials, and furnishings, helping to make their home more habitable while they continue their long-term recovery.
There are times when life piles multiple challenging events on you all at once. This bookseller – a parent of two children – had been going through a difficult divorce when their bookstore job was eliminated. Their ex-spouse was unemployed and not paying child support or alimony. The bookseller took on a second job and was also rehired as a bookseller but with fewer hours and lower pay. They cut expenses where they were able, budgeted, and enrolled the family in Medicaid. Through hard work, they were managing to stay on top of their bills when they fell and broke their leg. Time away from work, surgery, and therapy threatened to derail an already very precarious financial position. Binc paid one month’s expenses to keep the family current on their bills. Because of Binc’s grant, the family did not fall behind on their bills while the bookseller recuperated, and they stayed on top of their finances avoiding a lot of late fees and worry.
It's incredible what some people do to make ends meet. This bookseller had been living without water and electricity for six months, so they could keep up with their bills. They had been showering at the local YMCA, using a neighbor’s electricity as needed, and used a bicycle as their main transportation. This bookseller works full-time but lives in an area of the country that has been experiencing rapidly rising rents and cost living expenses; the area has experienced a nearly 50% increase in average rent in the last five years alone. This bookseller is looking for a second job to supplement their income, and by restructuring their debt and expenses, a grant from Binc allowed them to get the water and electricity reconnected. Sometimes all it takes is some guidance and a small grant to restore basic utilities for a bookseller in need.
Reliable transportation is essential for all of us and in many areas of the country public transportation access is limited. A bookseller’s 17-year-old car broke down and needed more in engine repairs than the vehicle was even worth. And still the vehicle would not have been safe to drive even after repairs had been completed. This bookseller was also going through a difficult custody dispute and a reliable vehicle was vital to attend legal appointments. The bookseller’s friends and family raised $2000 and with Binc’s matching grant of $2000 the bookseller could afford another, safer vehicle – allowing them to visit their child and get to work.
Everyone deserves a safe, affordable place to live, but when a landlord decided to sell, and a bookseller was faced with potential homelessness in an expensive and limited rental market they turned to Binc. It was proving impossible to come up with the necessary cash: a security deposit, two month’s rent, and utility deposit. Binc helped this bookseller by covering much of the necessary funds required to move in to a new place. Paying the utility and security deposits and two month’s rent allowed this bookseller to avoid homelessness. They wrote to Binc saying, "Thank you so much! This is amazing and life-changing! I so appreciate the work of you and the foundation.” A few months’ rent can be the difference between a safe, affordable place to live and homelessness.
Saving for life’s emergencies on a bookseller’s salary and with student loan debt can be extremely difficult, and when a bookseller needed to take eight to twelve weeks off work to recover from back surgery, the family was unsure how they were going to cover their monthly expenses. Binc paid one mortgage payment which helped the family stay above water financially during the bookseller’s recovery. This grant helped the family focus on the bookseller’s recovery from surgery without the added worry of how they were going to pay their bills.
People and relationships can change over time and not always for the better. A bookseller’s partner of five years was becoming controlling and emotionally abusive. They have a pre-school aged child and the bookseller was worried for their child as well as themselves. They decided it was time to remove themselves and their child from an increasingly urgent situation. The controlling partner wouldn’t leave when asked and had also stopped financially contributing to the monthly bills. Binc stepped in to cover the penalty charge so the bookseller could break their lease and leave with their child. The bookseller and child have since moved in with a family member and is looking for an affordable rental.
Many booksellers hold multiple jobs to make ends meet. Binc recently helped a bookseller who is not only a multiple job holder but also a student, taking college classes. They lost their side job and because of a tight budget this meant they were unable to cover their rent for the month. The combination of a grant from Binc, and a promotion at their bookstore job, allowed them to meet their expenses and they will happily be able to meet their expenses going forward.
A town’s bookstore holds so many vital roles – a community gathering place, an employer, a payer of taxes, and fundamentally a place for ideas and learning. A bookstore owner came to Binc when they lost the lease on their store which put the store’s future at risk. The owner was piecing together an income for herself and the store through a pop-up bookstore, a part-time job, and writing. But as they focused on the future of their bookstore, they fell behind on their personal bills. Binc paid two month’s rent to get the bookseller through a difficult time. And now the future of the bookstore is more secure because the owner refocused their efforts back on the store knowing their personal rent was taken care of.
If you are interested in further helping communities affected by natural disasters, please feel free to make a monetary donation here. All proceeds will go to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc).