New Executive Director, Eileen Minogue, Keeps Getting Books Into Children’s Hands
When Amy Zaslansky needed a new executive director for The Book Fairies, a Long Island-based not for profit children’s book donation organization, within just a few hours, she was given one name by three different people. She knew she had to meet this Massapequa-native, Eileen Minogue. That was in early 2019. Amy needed someone to take the reins of her six-year-old not for profit, one with the strength to take it to the next level, the organizational smarts to create new routines, and the interpersonal skills to build crucial relationships. At the same time, Eileen was looking for her next fulfilling mission, and when she heard about this “small but mighty organization,” she listened to what Amy had to say and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Book Fairies’ goal is clear: collect and distribute donations of new and gently used books to children in low income communities via libraries, schools, and social services agencies throughout Long Island and New York City. Since its beginning in 2012, the group has gotten over two million books back in use again. That’s exactly what Eileen meant: “Mighty.”
Eileen is no stranger to the not for profit world. Twenty years ago, she and a group of neighbors fundraised for a local family whose nine year-old daughter needed a double lung transplant. The amount raised, a staggering $100,000. She’s gone on to other causes in her Long Island community raising upwards of $1.7 million to fund scholarships and assist other families in need. In 2010, she co-founded an airlift service which flew people who needed medical treatments, or “for compassionate reasons like bringing a parent to a sick child.” Begun in her basement, Patient AirLift Services (PALS), continues to fly and has grown into a major organization connecting pilots, planes, and anyone who needs transportation.
It was after she moved on from PALS that Amy heard about Eileen. “Eileen brings with her an incredible work ethic, and such a strong dedication to the mission,” she says. “That was she able to guide the idea for PALS from her basement to become a national organization was the kind of leader we needed.” So during this Covid crises, The Book Fairies has been in good hands. Eileen and her staff continue to receive and deliver books regularly although technically closed. “The pandemic has left our most vulnerable children in the dark,” she explains, “and unable to access more reading material.”
Books are still being donated, though new arrivals sit for a few days before being handled. Then, one by one, they’re carefully cleaned, sorted and packed for pickup. Since the number of volunteers had to be cut due to social distancing, what the group could accomplish in one week, now takes a month. The biggest challenge for Eileen is how to virtually fundraise in a time when putting groups of people in one place is against public health guidelines. However, when you learn that earlier this year, the not for profit celebrated their record-breaking* distribution of over 30,000 books to a Long Island community, it’s clear that The Book Fairies will rise to the occasion.
*That event broke the Guinness World Record for the Longest Line of Books
An executive director like Eileen Minogue must have been inspired by someone, and when asked, she immediately credits her mom. “I am the youngest of nine children and for as long as I can remember, my mother would be asking me to do something to help a family member, a neighbor or even a stranger,” says Eileen. “She died when I was 29 and I only wish she could see what she has instilled in me.”
For more information on The Book Fairies, and how make a book or financial donation, visit TheBookFaires.org
Top photo: Amy Zaslansky, fourth from left, and Eileen, fifth from right.