Jennifer Frances, founder of Bess the Book Bus, is the latest winner of a year’s supply of fuel in the Fueling Good program presented by CITGO Petroleum Corp.
Based in Tampa, Fla., Bess the Book Bus is a mobile literacy program which provides free books and reading programs to underprivileged children across the community. The program introduces children to the magic of reading and helps improve literacy levels across the community. With the support of CITGO, Bess the Book Bus will be able to fuel up for the entire year to reach even more children in south Florida and beyond.
Launched in June 2009, Fueling Good is designed to recognize and reward the efforts of people across the country who go above and beyond to provide a positive impact on the lives of others. Based on the underlying principals of solidarity and social development held by CITGO and its shareholder, PDVSA, the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the Fueling Good contest invites local heroes to submit stories of doing good in their communities. From July through November, five finalists will be selected from the entries for a monthly online vote, which will help decide the winner of a year’s supply of fuel from CITGO.
Since 2004, Frances has been dedicated to reading to children, promoting literacy, and getting books in to the homes of underprivileged children and families in the Tampa area. Frances travels to schools, shelters, and after school programs where she reads stories and gives away books. With the support of the community and local businesses, Frances has been able to upgrade the original Bess the Book Bus, an old VW camper van, and has opened new worlds and raised reading levels to thousands of local children and adults.
This summer, Bess the Book Bus partnered with superpages.com to launch “The Summer of Good Reads and Good Deeds,” a nationwide outreach that impacted 35 states and delivered 21,000 books into under-served communities. This year, Frances expects to deliver more than 40,000 books into communities across the country.
“My grandmother showed me that a book can open a young mind to a world of infinite possibilities and opportunities,” Frances said. “By reading to children and providing them with books of their own, I help encourage a young imagination and raise literacy levels and the chance for future success.”
“The year’s supply of gas from CITGO will mean that Bess the Book Bus can reach more children in more communities across Florida and beyond,” added Frances. “It’s great to have support from CITGO and I hope that I can inspire more people to help a child, simply by reading a story.”
Four other Fueling Good finalists this month received a $50 CITGO gift card. These local heroes are helping their community through a variety of efforts, including:
Leave It For Love: Jennifer Molski’s effort to provide joy to low income and isolated senior citizens in Chicago by recycling gifts donated by members of the community. So far, more than 1,000 gifts have been collected for seniors.
The Nickelby Project: An organization founded by the Marriam family of North Carolina to bring smiles to children suffering with cancer. The organization visits children and their families and donates gift bags, meals and other items to help raise spirits and spread joy across more than 28 states.
Breast Friends Forever: In honor of their own family members who were struggling with breast cancer, cousins Erika Rech and Mike Ruane have raised more than $100,000 in support of women with breast cancer across New Jersey. The money helps women buy wigs and groceries, and pay medical bills, mortgages, car payments, and other household expenses.
Wye River Upper School: Founded by mothers of children with special needs including ADHD and dyslexia, the Wye River Upper School in Wye Mills, MD gives local children in this rural community a school with small classes, well-trained teachers and creative instruction to help children with learning differences succeed.
“It’s an honor to help recognize and reward Jennifer Frances and Bess the Book Bus for helping inspire children across Tampa,” said Hulon Williams,president with J.H. Williams Oil Co. Inc. “Not only does the program bring the joy of reading to others, it strengthens the community for years to come by helping improve literacy and education levels.”