New Library Opens at Samaritan Daytop Village Shelter in Queens


Samaritan Daytop Village, in collaboration with United Way and NYC Department for Social Services, launched ‘The Bookmark,’ a new library at Boulevard family shelter in Queens on May 29. Courtesy of Anat Gerstein, Inc.

A new chapter in literacy and community support unfolded on May 29 as Samaritan Daytop Village, in collaboration with United Way and the New York City Department for Social Services, unveiled ‘The Bookmark,’ a vibrant library nestled within the Boulevard family shelter in Queens.

Designed to serve 199 families residing at the shelter, The Bookmark offers an array of literary resources aimed at enriching the lives of children and parents alike. From a diverse collection of children’s books to designated reading spaces and computer terminals for older youth and adults, the facility promises to be a sanctuary of learning and relaxation.

The facility, serving 199 families, offers books, reading spaces, and computers. Courtesy of Anat Gerstein, Inc.

The grand opening ceremony witnessed a heartwarming moment as DSS Administrator Carter, Samaritan CEO Mitchell Netburn, and United Way CEO Grace Bonilla came together to read the beloved children’s book “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” to the shelter’s young residents.

The creation of this haven for literature owes its existence to a $10,000 grant from United Way of New York City, part of a broader initiative aimed at enhancing access to books and literacy-based activities in underserved communities. In line with this vision, The Bookmark represents a cornerstone of a larger endeavor to ensure that every child in shelter environments has access to the resources necessary for their educational and personal development.

“We are grateful to partner with trusted organizations to advance education equity and empower all children and adults with increased access to the world of literature and books,” Grace Bonilla, President & CEO at United Way of New York City said. “These community libraries are foundational for ensuring that all New Yorkers can thrive as the libraries are planting seeds for future economic mobility.”

In a statement, Mitchell Netburn, CEO of Samaritan Daytop Village, expressed gratitude for the collaborative effort that brought The Bookmark to fruition, emphasizing its significance in promoting academic advancement and fostering social and emotional well-being among shelter residents. Netburn underscored the library’s role as a model for similar initiatives across New York City, thanking United Way for their generosity and support.

“Thanks to the generosity of United Way and the partnership with the New York City Department of Homeless Services, our families have a space where children and their parents can spend quiet time, research, read, and engage in activities,” Netburn said. “This new library adds to our Afterschool Zone initiative at the Boulevard shelter, which gives children a leg up academically, promotes intellectual learning, and expands their social and emotional learning opportunities.  Together, this library and the Afterschool Zone serve as a model for other family residences in New York City. We are grateful to United Way for making this possible.”

United Way’s $10,000 grant funded the project, aiming to enhance literacy in marginalized communities. Courtesy of Anat Gerstein, Inc.

Similarly, Joslyn Carter, DHS Administrator, highlighted the transformative power of reading, describing it as a conduit to imagination and relaxation. Carter commended United Way of New York City for their contribution, recognizing The Bookmark as a vital resource for children and families seeking solace and inspiration during challenging times.

“Reading is fundamental. Reading is one of things that can take you to a place of fantasy, where you can just relax and hear stories,” Carter said. “That’s the opportunity that we need to give to children and families, and here it is, the chance to do just that in this beautiful space. As soon as I walked through this door, my spirits were lifted. We could not have done this without the generosity of the United Way of New York City – thank you.”

Leaders praised the initiative’s potential to support educational and emotional well-being in shelter residents. Courtesy of Anat Gerstein, Inc.

The unveiling of The Bookmark marks a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to provide holistic support to families experiencing homelessness, reflecting a shared commitment to nurturing a culture of learning and resilience within communities across the city.