Meredith Alexander, founder of Milk+Bookies, is one inspiring mama! She saw a need to provide low-income children with the power of literacy in Los Angeles and took action. Instead of going the traditional route of philanthropy, she created a nonprofit that encourages children to donate to other children. Their mission of Read+Give+Grow has made a powerful impact on the lives of children across Los Angeles who have not only received the donated books but have learned the power of giving.
Q: What motivated you to start Milk+Bookies?
I've always had a strong need to help wherever I could and try to leave things better than I found them. I realized that I had this value ingrained in me from having watched my mother work tirelessly fundraising for cancer research. And then it dawned on me: If my children don't see me doing my part to give back, how will they have that ingrained in them? I knew I wanted to continue spending my time doing service but realized that incorporating my children was the key to continuing the legacy.
Q: What has been your proudest moment so far with M+B?
Well, I'm not in it for the awards or statues, so I always go back to the kids. When I see that spark in a child's eyes when they donate a book and realize they are making a positive change for someone else—and they like the way that feels—that is a proud moment for me. I then know, in my heart, that that child will go on to recreate that feeling for themselves by helping/sharing/giving whenever they can next. That is a BIG WIN.
Q: What's next for M+B?
Last year, Milk + Bookies took over the longstanding and deeply impactful BOOKENDS, a book drive program that ran in Los Angeles for more than 16 years. When we folded their school-to-school book distribution initiative into our organization, it was a natural fit, and we had fun tweaking their model to make it fit our existing "book-raisers." We call this new arm the MILK + BOOKIES LEADERS + READERS. In our first 12 months running Leaders + Readers in LA, we have been able to bring more than 120,000 books to Watts, Compton, Lynwood and surrounding neighborhoods in great need of appropriate reading material. We continue this program, along with our regular nationwide work, while thinking about the possibility of bringing Leaders + Readers to other cities. But for now, we stay busy filling the need right here in our own backyard.
Q: How do you unwind?
I have a difficult time down-shifting, but I enjoy hiking Will Rogers State Beach on the weekends, cuddling with my dogs whenever I can and OF COURSE reading bedtime stories with my little one every night at 8!
Meredith Alexander lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children. She is a floral designer by trade, but now works tirelessly for children's literacy and service learning.FoundingMilk + Bookies in 2004, Meredith became executive director in 2008 when Milk + Bookies gained its 501 (c) 3 non-profit status. Meredith's favorite bedtime story is "Pickle-Chiffon Pie"by Jolly Roger Bradfield.