Community Builder: Midlands woman using books to help the homeless

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A Midlands woman is proving there's power in the words we speak and read. She's using literacy to reach out to families dealing with homelessness and it has made a huge difference.

"I'm a firm believer that books are either a window into something or a mirror to us," Tamara King said.

Twice a month, King makes it her mission to give her "By the Book" club members a glimpse.

"So this is a whole-book experience for us," King said. "We're not just in a book club. We're experiencing the book together and we're friends together."

The literary bond started 2 years and five books ago. As part of her Master's program at the University of South Carolina, King was asked to start a literacy program. She chose St. Lawrence Place, a go-to for homeless families in the Midlands.

"Most of our families would not be reading these books without Tamara," said St. Lawrence Place CEO Lila Anna Sauls. "We know if they're reading, they're going to go home and encourage their children to read."

King said she calls the book club the most rewarding experience she's ever had. And while we were there, she received an extra boost to that experience.

The presentation from Mungo was a huge surprise for King, who works and goes to school full-time, raises money all on her own for books, and even convinces authors from around the United States to come and speak.

"This isn't just something I do," King said. "This isn't something that I have to do. This is something that I genuinely love doing."

As a Community Builder, King gets $1,000 for a charity of her choice. With no hesitation, King says the money is going right back to St. Lawrence Place and the By the Book Club.

"When people give money to our organization and our effort, it is like air," King said. "That's what I call it. It's air. We have like three year's worth of books now."

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