BALTIMORE — Women Behind the Community, Inc. (WO-BE-CO ) is a civic and community organization made up of women who assist Baltimoreans with cultural activities, voter registration, and education. For the past 20 years WOBECO has been donating African American books to grade schools throughout Baltimore city. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the group donating books.
With city schools experiencing a severe fiscal crisis and a fluctuating deficit throughout the years, there are times when public schools don’t always have the money to pay teachers or get resources that will benefit the students.
Unfortunately, over half of the schools in inner cities don’t have age-appropriate books, if any at all, for their students.
“With most of the members of WO-BE-CO being educators, this is something that means a lot to this group of women. A large portion of the inner city schools cannot afford books so they really appreciate them,” according to WO-BE-CO member Barbra Lee.
Not only does WO-BE-CO donate books, they also mentor fourth grade girls. They help them with reading and school assignments. WO-BE-CO builds relationships with the girls and provides extra activities for students.
They have worked with Yorkwood Elementary; Inner Harbor East Academy; Grove Park Elementary; Gwynn Falls Elementary; Franklin Square Elementary; Bethel Christian School; Walbrook Senior High; Edgecombe Circle Elementary; Cross Country Elementary; Furman Templeton Elementary; Robert Coleman Elementary; and most recently, Edgewood Elementary.
The ladies of WOBECO celebrated their 20th anniversary with the fourth and fifth grade girls of Edgewood Elementary, as well as author and story-teller Janice Curtis Greene. The students were so excited to enter into the library to see their mentors. With technology booming at a rapid pace, reading hard-copy books seems to be going extinct, but the young girls love reading.
When the library doors opened, the young girls ran into the room ready for the festivities. Small voices filled the room asking, “Where’s Ms. Greene?” and “When is story-time?” They could barely wait! It was amazing to see how enticed the students were to read and hear stories.
While the children munched on their snacks, author Janice Curtis Greene came out and dramatically captured the girl’s attention with her exciting voice and interesting African instruments. The students’ eyes were glued to her— it was amazing!
After story-time, the students took the opportunity to ask questions. So many girls had questions for the author that they had to cut it short because they couldn’t get to everybody. At the end, the young ladies thanked Janice Curtis Greene for her time and they all received autographed books from the author.