Donor Spotlight

Our Spring Library renovation at Santee Elementary School in San Jose is underway, thanks to a generous donation from Marilyn & Elizabeth Dougherty.

Access Books Bay Area relies on the strength of our donors and volunteers to accomplish the work that we do, bringing access to high quality/ high interest books to children living in underserved communities. Our many volunteers and donors each have a unique story as to how reading and a love of books has inspired them to promote literacy and equal access to books for children. This month we feature Elizabeth’s story and thank her and Marilyn for the generous donation that will allow thousands of children living in San Jose’s most impoverished areas to develop their own love of reading. Below is her story about how and why she decided to make this donation.

From Elizabeth Dougherty:

Carter reading with his grandfather Norris

My parents, Norris and Marilyn Dougherty, never said no if we wanted a book, and with six kids it added up to a lot of books. So many that my parents added a “library” the width of our house, with the two long walls all floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. The room also had two tables, each with four chairs, for anyone, including neighbor kids, who wanted a place to do homework. My dad especially loved books, and his dream retirement was to own a secondhand bookstore. It’s no wonder that I ended up being a book editor.

My dad is no longer with us, and last year my mom sold their lakeside cottage. From the proceeds, she gave me and my siblings each the chance to designate a charity to receive $15,000. For me, picking Access Books Bay Area was a no-brainer.

Marilyn Dougherty reading with her grandson Carter

I’d met Amanda in her role of librarian at PAUSD Greene Middle school, which my son attended. We participated in Access Books’ book drives, and I applauded the focus on refurbishing local school libraries and getting high-interest books in kids’ hands. I was especially impressed by the ability to finish a project over a weekend, so that on Monday morning students could check out books. Obviously, a lot of work happened beforehand, but that ability to execute with no paid staff on a shoestring budget deserves support.

We are honored to have our donation go to purchasing books for Santee Elementary School in San Jose, which Access Books is refurbishing in April 2022. Over the winter, my mom and I visited the school and met with the principal and the librarian, who explained just how great the need is. In fact, ninety-four percent live at poverty level or below. We are thrilled to be able to help make a difference in the students’ lives through books. My dad would be proud.

—Elizabeth Dougherty


It’s donations large and small that help our work continue. Please consider making a donation today.

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