Building Bridges Through Books
Local schools in Guardia, Comunidad and Paso Tempisque recently received a very special visit from Four Seasons guests Benjamin Sweeney and his mom Deborah. They were there to donate books collected by the non-profit Ben founded while in his junior year of high school, Books Build Bridges. We had the pleasure to speak to them and learn more about their project.
What made you passionate about books, and why did you decide your charity would be focused on book donations for underprivileged children?
Ben: “When I was younger, my grandmother would pick me up from school, and she always had an abundance of books in the back of the car. I started volunteering at the Guadalupe Community Center in Los Angeles, tutoring kids from elementary and middle school in math and reading. I was struck by the impact reading had; how much it lit up their imaginations. After a while, I started collecting and donating my own books. Eventually, the idea developed into a non-profit.”
Deborah: “We found that needs often overlap. Requests for food donations are sometimes accompanied by requests for books. People are charitable, and if they can support two or more needs at the same time, they are more than happy to help.”
What have been the most rewarding experiences so far through your work on Books Build Bridges?
Ben: “I felt like it all came together today. Reading with the kids at the Guadalupe Center was also really special, seeing the students’ passions is really what sparked this.”
Deborah: “We took a leap in coming here, building these connections, learning about the community and its children. Understanding the significance of the work Creciendo Juntos does here, it was a visceral wow for us, something we’ll take home and share.”
Ben: “I’m looking forward to going into my senior year of high school, and then off to college, to study business and economics. I’m confident I will find like-minded people, and whatever business endeavor I get into will be socially mindful.”
Deborah: “The schools expressed the specific needs they have regarding technology, and the ABCMouse program the kids are using to learn English. So, challenge accepted! Bridges will continue to be built, finding connections between givers in the US and worthy causes in Costa Rica.”
“Even though we may all come from different spheres, you can find those connections, involve yourself, take a leap.” – Benjamin Sweeney