Rotary Minute: Tammi Brooks

Tammi Brooks escaped into books to cope with a difficult childhood. Now a mother of four and a success, she wants as many kids as possible to have that same outlet.

After her father divorced her mentally ill mother when she was 11 months old, she was handed to the care of her minister’s family, a blessing for sure.

She went back to live with her mother after a time, but it didn’t work out. “By the time I was 16,” she said, “I figured I was on my own.”

Tammi graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in literature and African-American studies ­– the first white student to major in the then-new discipline. “It revealed the latent racism that comes from being a white person in the South that you don’t even know you have until you’re thrown into being a minority,” she said.

She launched a magazine in Gainesville, and it’s still going strong to this day.  But Tammi longed for an experience outside of her college town, so she went to work for Algonquin Books in Chapel Hill.

Small wonder that she has a passion for sharing the gift of literacy with underprivileged children. She brought to the podium three of her favorite childhood books: Miss Twiggley’s Tree, Tikki Tikki Tembo and How Fletcher Was Hatched.

It was all by way of plugging the new “Books on Hand” initiative, in which our club will be charged with supplying 45,000 books to needy children by April. Each member will be asked to provide at least 25 books or a monetary equivalent. Donor accounts will be set up with Barnes & Noble and Amazon to make it no-excuses easy.

It’ll be hard for anyone in attendance to not meet the expectation after Tammi’s moving account. She knows better than most that, as she said, “If children read, they will have a better chance of succeeding, no matter what their circumstances are.”

 

Submitted by Matt Dees

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