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Volunteer of the Year

Eli Ehrbar with GAL Project Chair Mary E. Bush and Judge Denise N. Rini
Eli Ehrbar graciously accepted his 2013 Volunteer of the Year Award at a lunch-time reception in his honor on Friday, February 14, 2014 at the Juvenile Justice Center in Cleveland. He was thanked for his service and commitment to the education and literacy of the children of Cuyahoga County.
Eli's journey began in 2012 when he used his Bar Mitzvah as an opportunity to help others rather than receive gifts for himself. He directed his friends and family to donate books or make a monetary donation to the Books GALore Program to help the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation and the Guardian ad Litem Project put books in the hands of every child represented by a GAL, for the Diagnostic Clinic, the Juvenile Court waiting areas and supervised visitation centers.
The outpouring of generosity inspired Eli to do more. He spent countless hours at the GAL Project office sorting boxes of books categorizing them by reading level and labeling the boxes. Eli and his parents, Jeff Ehrbar and Diane Singer, continue their commitment and support of the Books GALore Program.
Hundreds of children have benefited from the effort of this one young man.Eli with his parents, Jeff Ehrbar and Diane Singer
  • Every child identified by their GAL received books during the holiday season, along with hats, gloves and scarves and other items on their wish list.
  • On the next visit from their GAL who arrived with new books, some children, in turn, have donated back the books that they've read over and over so that other children could enjoy the books just as much as they did.
  • Books GALore purchased multiple copies of Sammy the Seal for Public Defender, Margie Hartman, to use as a tool to teach illiterate youth being held in the Detention Center to read.
  • Toddlers often come to the Juvenile Justice Center to wait for parents' or siblings' cases to be heard. GALs, Court Staff, and Sheriff's Deputies have books on hand to give to these children. They stop in their tracks, plop down, and start turning the pages.
  • Judge Denise Rini uses the books as a tool to encourage family time by assigning some of the youth appearing in her courtroom to read to their younger siblings.
  • Books GALore has purchased blank journals for teens who have requested them to record their thoughts and feelings.
  • Detention Center Social Worker, Vanetra Malone, started reading groups with youth in the Detention Center with books provided by the Books GALore Program.
"A child from a family rich in books is 19 percentage points more likely to complete university than a comparable child growing up without a home library," M.D.R. Evans (Dr. Mariah D.R. Evans, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University  of Nevada, Reno)