by Larkin Vonalt
When we separated from Planned Parenthood last autumn, we took the position that the less said, the better. We thought what was important was that the Book Fair would continue and that it would support a wide variety of local groups in our community.
But we were asked about the split more than we expected during the course of the sale. One man, irate upon learning that we were no longer the Friends of Planned Parenthood Book Sale, left his stack of books on the counter and stomped out.
So it seems an answer is in order.
The short answer is that we wanted the money raised to stay in the Dayton area, and we felt that by helping several smaller non-profit groups we could have more positive impact on our own community.
But as with every short answer, there is a longer answer too.
First of all, it had nothing to do with the protesters that camped out at our gates each November, or with the absurd Congressional hearings this summer. We still believe that the issues surrounding women’s health and women’s rights are incredibly important.
But after 40 plus years, it was time for a change.
Planned Parenthood is a global charity with a more than billion-dollar budget. Yes, billion– with a “B”. Our contribution was little more than a drop in their bucket. After the Miami Valley chapter was rolled into the Cincinnati offices of PPSWO, the proceeds from the Dayton Book Fair weren’t even staying in Dayton.
Sadly, there was also an ongoing issue of unpleasantness the personnel from Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio visited on Book Fair volunteers. Over the course of 2014, some pretty vile insinuations were made about Loft volunteers, some of whom have been with Book Loft for more than three decades.
At the end of the 2014 sale, the two individuals from PPSWO packed up the sale receipts and left the Coliseum, the door slamming shut behind them, as the rest of us worked the sale tear-down. They didn’t say thank you. Hell, they didn’t even say goodbye.
Dear readers, if we had not reorganized ourselves there would not have been a Book Fair at all.
At this year’s Fair, a woman asked me”You stopped supporting them because they weren’t nice to you?” Well, yes. We are an entirely volunteer operation. It is a more than full-time job for me and for a couple of colleagues— for which we draw no compensation at all. Nothing, not a dime. When we say the Book Fair is a labor of love, we are not kidding.
We do love what we’re doing. It’s not just about the the money raised for Dayton non-profits. It is also about the service we provide in collecting books, both from organizations and from individuals. It’s about the hundreds of cases of books we give away each year to literacy campaigns, day camps, community kitchens, health clinics, nursing homes, shelters and the like. Even the books that have reached the end of their line, too damaged to be read again, are recycled through a great program at Meadow-dale High School.
We’ve had calls at the Loft from people who want to know if Planned Parenthood will still take their books. We’ve said that we think they’ll take books in boxes at their office at 224 N. Wilkinson Street. We understand they sell those books through an online consignment service.
Several people reported that when they called PPSWO to ask about the Book Fair they were told “There is no longer a Book Fair.” Sometimes “P” can stand for “petty”, too.
We hope this clears up a few things. If you have questions or want further clarification, your comments are welcome.