Spreading the Word at Convening Leaders 2022

Hospitality Helping Hands volunteers sorted books to be delivered to children in low-income communities.

Author: Convene Editors       

Hospitality Helping Hands 22

Spread the Word Nevada, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing childhood literacy, brought nearly 10,000 children’s books to Caesar’s Forum in four big boxes for volunteers to sort and prep. (Photos by Jacob Slaton Photography)

Participants in the Convening Leaders 22 Hospitality Helping Hands (HHH) session Jan. 9 helped to make sure that hundreds of children in 62 schools in the Las Vegas area soon will get a book of their own, said Lovely Mempin, volunteer engagement manager for Spread the Word Nevada, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing childhood literacy within low-income communities. The 20-year-old organization distributes a new or gently used book every month to each child in the program — 60,000-plus books are given away each month.

Volunteers on Sunday were the last stop for the books on their way to children — checking books for quality and “beautifying” them, Mempin said, by making sure they were free of dust or other defects. Spread the Word brought nearly 10,000 children’s books to Caesar’s Forum in four big boxes for volunteers to sort and prep. Volunteers could either prepare the books for distribution by wiping down the covers and checking over the pages, taping up any small rips or blacking out written messages, or box them up in smaller boxes. From there, they will go directly to children in kindergarten, first-, fourth-, and fifth-grade classes, Mempin said. The PCMA Foundation also donated $10,000 to the organization.

“We are very grateful to be partnering with PCMA,” said Mempin, whose alternate title is “humanitarian logistics manager” — which also could be applied to the meeting professionals who donated their time to Sunday morning’s four-hour-long event. Since 2001, Spread the Word Nevada has dis­trib­uted more than 6 mil­lion gen­tly used and new books to more than 672,885 low-income youth in Nevada, and distributed nearly a half a million books to children in 2021 alone.

Hospitality Helping Hands

Participants in Hospitality Helping Hands cleaned up the books before packing them to go out to students.

While those numbers demonstrate the impact Spread the Word Nevada has had on children in underserved communities, it was Mempin’s personal story that tugged at HHH participants’ heartstrings. Mempin shared how the books provided by the program helped her “escape” the challenges she experienced as a young child new to Nevada. “Have no doubt,” she told the group at the beginning of the activity, “that the work you are doing today will have an impact on a child’s life. Books open up a world of possibilities.”

This marked the fourth time Maia Christopher, executive director of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA), participated in HHH. “We like to give back to the communities we visit during Convening Leaders,” she said. Christopher said that the CSR activity aligns with “the work we do in society to prevent sexual abuse.”

Kelly McGrath, ATSA’s associate director, concurred about the initiative lining up with ATSA’s mission. It was also McGrath’s fourth time participating in HHH, which also gives her the opportunity, she said, to meet “like-minded people.” As a planner, she added, “it’s also a wonderful way” for her to see firsthand how to put a community-service activity together to engage attendees. Not taking away from the content at CL, McGrath said, but HHH has come to be a highlight of the event for her.

Corey Fransway, who was busily wiping down a book, said it was his first time participating in HHH. Fransway, a strategic account director at Maritz Global Events — one of HHH’s sponsors along with GES and MGM Resorts — said he was inspired to join the group by seeing enthusiastic posts over the years from other HHH participants. “I wanted to be a part of that,” he said.