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A Heart Full of Books

Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine - Schiltigheim
Social ties in priority neighbourhoods

The Livres association, which runs a library in a disadvantaged neighbourhood, has two sponsors. ‘We provide different skills, and that’s a real plus,’ asserts Véronique Fritsch. Her colleague Éric Wagner shares this opinion and sees sponsorship as ‘a small-scale citizen initiative.’



In the heart of the Écrivains neighbourhood, in the Bas-Rhin Department between the municipalities of Schiltigheim and Bischheim, the Livres association opened a library for children and youths in 1988. ‘In our neighbourhood, many families face social difficulties. There is also a large foreign population. Many are removed from reading and culture. Our goal is to make sure that there are books in every household, and allow children to take part in free cultural activities during school holidays,’ explains Myriam Kehrli, president of the association.

An Emotional Connection
The 500 members can access more than 15,000 books along with activities such as storytelling workshops organised by volunteer librarians. ‘I was immediately taken by the association’s area of focus. They already had one sponsor, but I insisted. Books and culture are crucial for me. It is important for sponsors to choose associations with which they feel an emotional connection. The more you have a personal stake, the more you want to get involved,’ says Véronique Fritsch, executive assistant with VINCI Energies France Est. Éric Wagner, supervisor with VINCI Construction, shares this opinion: ‘Reading opens minds. It is unforgivable that Schiltigheim doesn’t have a municipal library!’ Véronique was also shocked during her first visit: ‘I come from a small village that had a large library, but here, in a city near Strasbourg, there’s nothing. That said, the association does remarkable work with its very limited resources. It is completely at the service of the population, and fights to defend its beliefs in a difficult neighbourhood. Every time we meet, I leave highly motivated.’

A Precious Exchange
The Fondation VINCI pour la Cité gave Livres a grant of €10,000, and the association was ‘able to accomplish a goal it held dear: hire someone to reach out to parents and bring them into the library with their children,’ says Myriam. As for the sponsors, both have left their own marks. Véronique was a driving force behind the creation of the website, a beautiful showcase for Livres, while Éric organised a worksite visit with pupils from an intermediate school. ‘This relationship has been very valuable for us. More than the financial aspect, the presence of people who take an interest in what we do is precious,’ insists the president. Both sponsors agree on the great value of co-sponsorship, and are ready to continue the adventure. ‘With a little bit of personal involvement, we can forge a lasting relationship with an association,’ concludes Véronique. Éric, for his part, intends to set up other worksite visits for intermediate school pupils. ‘It gives me an opportunity to share my passion for art while showing them concrete things in history, physics, etc. Sponsorship brings you into contact with people outside your professional circle. It’s a wonderful way to feel like a useful part of civil society.’

www.bibliotheque-association-livres.fr December 2015 © Reporters d’Espoirs News Agency

December 2015 © Reporters d'Espoirs news agency

Reporters d'Espoirs news agency

VINCI Foundation works with Reporters d'Espoirs, a French news agency, to highlight and share the innovative social initiatives that it supports. The arrangement includes the writing of articles and exchange on topics that lead to solutions. Thus presented, the initiatives, validated using the criteria of the editorial charter of Reporters d'Espoirs, are intended to demonstrate their development and results.