In 2008, Bernie’s Book Bank Founder and Executive Director Brian Floriani left his job as a golf professional to become a reading paraprofessional for Shiloh Park Elementary in Zion, Illinois. The sudden death of his father, Dr. Bernard P. Floriani for whom Bernie’s Book Bank is named, inspired him to do something different with his life.
Brian spent every day working with struggling readers. And while he was able to help each one individually, he realized that his efforts were not doing anything to prepare young readers to enter school. After learning that only 24 percent of incoming six-year-old children in Waukegan, Illinois interacted with books, Brian began to envision a business that would pour children’s books into at-risk homes, and help prepare children to enter school “reading ready.” He began collecting children’s books in his garage and distributed them in age-appropriate bags to children at Shiloh Park Elementary. And thus, Bernie’s Book Bank was born.
Today, Brian is confident that Bernie’s Book Bank can and will transform the educational journeys of at-risk children throughout America, and is thankful for every person who has helped us connect children needing books with books needing children.
Director of Communications and Marketing
Jill first got involved with Bernie’s Book Bank by organizing a book drive through the service club of her children’s school and was amazed to see how excited the students were to participate. She says, “I couldn’t believe how easily the kids appreciated the problem of children not having access to books. The mission just makes great sense – to both kids and parents alike.”
As Director of Communications and Marketing, she will continue to increase awareness and expand the mission of Bernie’s Book Bank, resulting in more books donated, more volunteers engaged and more money raised.
Jill brings 20+ years of community service and marketing experience to Bernie’s Book Bank, having worked in consumer travel, publishing and affinity marketing industries. Jill received her B.A. in Communication and Literature from The American University in Washington D.C. She lives in Highland Park with her husband, two children, their dog, and hundreds of books.
Jessie Urban first learned of Bernie’s Book Bank through an organization that she worked with that volunteered at Bernie’s. She was inspired by the unique way in which Bernie’s has been empowering young learners for a brighter future! She joined the team as the new Director of Operations and Logistics in September 2012. Her career has been focused on youth development, and she enjoys collaborating with schools, community organizations, and volunteers to collect, process, and distribute over 1 MILLION books a year to promote a love of reading for at-risk children in Chicago.
As Processing Manger, Joe works in our processing center to schedule and facilitate volunteer groups. He will use his managerial expertise to increase our processing capacity and find ways for us to be even more efficient, so we can continue to serve increasing numbers of at-risk children. Joe found out about and started volunteering at Bernie’s Book Bank thanks to a family member. In his professional travels he has helped expand a fortune 500 company in the Chicago and Southern California markets. When he is not chasing the kids, dog and wife around the house, he enjoys music, anything with wheels/wings and most outdoor sports.
Greg LeFebvre found Bernie’s Book Bank through a friend in February 2011 and began volunteering in the warehouse weekly. He knew immediately that he had found home. He loves the mission and the immediate impact that Bernie’s Book Bank has on the children we serve. His volunteer role grew into a full-time position in July 2011. Greg now manages warehouse operations and enjoys interacting with our many volunteers on a daily basis.Mark Pietrowski Senior Collection and Distribution Specialist
Mark found Bernie’s Book Bank through his cousin, who volunteers with us. Mark says, “At first, it was just a job, but it is so much more rewarding than any other job that I have had.” He is an avid magazine reader, fisherman and Harley Davidson enthusiast.
David moved to the U.S. just 2 years ago from Cuba, where he was a lawyer. He is an avid reader and has already proven to be a great asset to the Bernie’s Book Bank team!
“When I knew about Bernie’s Book Bank I did not have a job. Even today (in a romantic way) I think that “I do not have a job”. I say this is because not everybody has the opportunity to feel every day the beautiful energy from children when they touch, browse and read a book. I have in my mind, as a photo, the first smile that I received from a kid when I gave him my first bag with books on my first distribution….I am David; I love my family, music, to dance, ride a bike and read books. And every day I try to take a step forward.”
Part-time Collection and Distribution Specialist
As a parent, Andee has long understood the importance of book ownership and searched for a way to collect and give books to those less fortunate. She found the Page it Forward program and Bernie’s Book Bank and says, “Here was the missing piece.” Page It Forward Deerfield was created with the goal of collecting 10,000 books – three months later, Andee and her family had collected 25,232 to benefit Bernie’s Book Bank! Andee began volunteering in our warehouse and going out on collections and distributions. She is now employed as a Driver and Distribution Specialist. She is also the very proud mother of Ally (10) and Ryan (8), of Ally & Ryan 1 MILLION BOOKS fame! Read more about their ongoing project to collect ONE MILLION BOOKS at: http://www.facebook.com/OneMillionBooks