Eileen Minogue: The Book Fairies Still Flying High On Long Island During COVID-19

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.    

Eileen Minogue (Photot courtesy of Amy Zaslansky)

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.

Eileen stands in the Freeport warehouse during a safe and socially distant distribution event. (Photo by MJ Hanley-Goff)

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.”  

The joy of handing out the books.

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.

About MJ Hanley-Goff (90 Articles)
MJ Hanley-Goff has been contributing to WomanAroundTown since its inception in 2009. She began her career at Newsday and for ten years wrote for the Sunday Real Estate section. A move to the Hudson Valley brought her to the Times Herald-Record where she continued to write for a Sunday Real Estate section, and also joined the writing team at the monthly Orange Magazine. MJ then became editor of Hudson Valley Parent magazine, and contributed articles to Hudson Valley Magazine, AAA’s Car & Travel, and Tri-County Woman. After completing her novel and a self-help book, she created MJWRITES, INC. and conducts writing workshops, and as a self-proclaimed book “whisperer,” works with new writers on their books. Now back on Long Island, she continues to enjoy the opportunity to write for Woman Around Town, and the amazing adventures it offers, including reviewing concerts, events, and tourist attractions in New York, and around the world. “I particularly enjoy drawing attention to the off the beaten path kinds of events and experiences,” she says. “It’s great big world out there, with so many talented and creative artists, doers, and thinkers.”