DBP: How do you decide which organizations or communities to collaborate with?
RC & SA: We started in Downtown Brooklyn as it is a central hub that brings people from all diverse backgrounds. One of the things that we learned from that collaboration is that we are quite literally stronger together. When we work in partnership with established organizations we are able to amplify our message and impact. You’ll find our partners are varied—we work with indie bookstores, libraries, local community-based organizations, yet also ballerinas, authors, illustrators, and even restaurant owners. We are especially thankful for the support of The Brooklyn Navy Yard, Books are Magic, and Ingersoll Cornerstone Community Center. We are a need-blind organization, so if someone reaches out to us asking for books and has a plan for supporting their community through access to books, we will fulfill their request. This open-door policy has paved the way for great collaborations and partnerships. We think of the Brooklyn Book Bodega community as part of an inclusive tent with people from diverse socio-economic, racial, and cultural backgrounds.
DBP: What is something that has surprised you about running this organization?
RC & SA: It has been really rewarding to get to know our community in a deep way. We have forged unexpected partnerships and friendships through our amazing volunteers and partners. There are so many great organizations in Brooklyn working on behalf of kids and families. It’s exciting to learn about all of these organizations and then figure out with them how we can elevate literacy together.
DBP: To what do you attribute your success?
RC: I think it is a love of learning and curiosity instilled in me by my parents and family. My grandmother was a lifelong educator working tirelessly to make sure that kids with learning differences had access to opportunity. Her work and actions inspire me to this day. Working alongside Seema has allowed more success with BBB than I could’ve imagined on my own. Having a partner in this work has enabled us to set a vision and set goals far beyond what one person could do on their own.
SA: My personal success is also because of my parents. They were immigrants, worked hard, but most importantly collaborated with others to successfully be small business owners. Even after they immigrated, they continue to collaborate and support their community in India, it’s so inspiring! Collaboration with Rebecca and the diverse community in Brooklyn has enabled us to grow and continue to bring to life our vision for BBB.