An interview with Monica Wilson founder of Sharing Books Ministry
1. What lead/inspired you to start your ministry?
Last spring, I read an article in the LA Times about a woman who brought books to a homeless shelter every week. That idea really resonated with me because of my desire to find a new way/place to serve and because of my love of books. I discussed ways I could do this with the community pastor at our church and Sharing Books Ministry became a reality last summer.
2. Did you have some fears going into it and have they proven false?
The first place we decided would be a good fit for this ministry was at a local soup kitchen where they feed the homeless and low income people every day. I started last June to go every Monday with a rolling book cart. I had never spent much time with homeless people and did have some preconceived ideas about them. At first, it was definitely out of my comfort zone, but I as I began talking with the people that I saw every week and got to know them, I realized that every one of them has a story and is a loved child of God. I began to see them through the eyes of Jesus and looked for ways I could bless them. Some days, not many books are taken, but I am able to listen and encourage. On other days, many books are given out and it is so rewarding to see the books give comfort, encouragement, support, and joy. It is so heartwarming to see someone find just the book that they need on that day. Many people request Bibles and devotional books; those seem to be the most popular on my cart. At other times, they ask me for specific books they are interested in and I will go looking for them that week. When I come back with a requested book, I have been blessed with the smiles, hugs, and thanks I have received back.
3. What has touched your heart the most?
I think that seeing each of these men and women, many who live on the streets, as individuals, with struggles, trials, and challenges, yet still with hope. They each have a story and getting to know them individually has really touched my heart. When I go to the soup kitchen each Monday, I feel like I am going to see my friends.
4. Favorite story of one receiving a book that you searched for just for them?
There have been so many times when one person has asked me for a specific book and I have been able to bless them with that book. A young man, who has difficulty with reading, yet wants to learn to read better, asked me for a comic book. I wasn't sure exactly what to get him, but found a Fantastic Four comic. When I gave it to him, he was so excited; he said it was the perfect one. He was actually jumping up and down and yelling thank you from the middle of the courtyard. He couldn't wait to read it. That made my day! Another man who is Native American had requested specific books about Indians. I have been able to find him quite a few and have received a big smile and a hug on several occasions from him!
5. Where else are you sharing books?
Besides the soup kitchen each week, I have been able to donate books to the women and children at the Salvation Army's Transitional Living Center for single mothers and their kids, to the Whittier Pregnancy Care Clinic for the young moms who decided to keep their babies and are given books to read to their children, to Freed Indeed, a transitional home for men who are recovering from addictions, and to The Whole Child, an organization who places homeless families in homes.
6. What kind of books is most needed?
Bibles and devotional books of all kinds are very popular and requested all the time. I have several places where I donate children's books and they are used to bless the children who might not normally have access to books. Parenting books, paperback mysteries, thrillers, and science fiction are popular on my book cart as well.
Thank you for considering donating your books for those in need.