Yesterday, Nyseem, our oldest Tree House alum, learned that indeed he would be going to college. I sat in a chair under the book loft as Nyseem’s mother and Lauren, our Program Coordinator, jumped up and down. Nyseem, clearly overwhelmed, held his letter of acceptance, turning it over in his hands, rereading the page to himself.
We are so happy for Nyseem, for his family, for his mother, who said “I prayed for this day!”
Nyseem has grown up in North Central Philadelphia, he is a product of our neighborhood. He is who he is because he has had the love and support of a strong family, a family that understands it takes a village to raise a child.
My first day of work at Tree House Books happened to be the same day that our bookworms were celebrating the last day of our Life with Books program. It took a while for me to remember every young person’s name, but I’ll admit that it took no time at all to remember Nyseem.
When Nyseem arrived for the award ceremony he was surrounded by our young people. He related to each of them as though they were his younger sibling. I was struck by his patience, his maturity, and his even temperament no matter how many children were pulling on his sleeve. I immediately assumed he was a Temple volunteer.
Darcy, Tree House’s previous executive director, extracted him from his fan club, “This is Nyseem,” she said. “He is a Tree House Books alum. He started coming here years ago, now he is in high school, and he comes here when he can to volunteer.”
“Nyseem,” she said, “is amazing!”
Nyseem shook my hand and welcomed me to Tree House Books. I asked him what grade he was in and he said, “I’m a junior this year, next year a senior.” What do you want to do after high school? “College, of course,” he said with a fantastic smile. “What else is there?”
I am struck by the fact that Tree House Books was the first place Nyseem and his mother came to share their good news (of course, we are also across the street from where they live). But that is the point. We are here in the neighborhood as a resource and an advocate; a small part of a vibrant village.
We are a small organization but it is because of our size that we are able to build relationships with our families.
We can’t take credit for the hard work that went into making Nyseem the young man he is today, that credit goes to his family. Tree House Books is proud to be a chapter in Nyseem’s book–his success will inspire bookworms at Tree House Books for years to come.
Vashti Du Bois
Tree House Books
The Tree Shade Summer Project is a unique summer camp designed for kids ages 7-12. The project, Conversations in the City, will have campers develop an intimate understanding of history and how it affects social consciousness by living out what they read on the page. Campers will take field trips to different destinations in the city and experience the cultures, settings, foods, and art-making that the characters in their books experience.
Click here for more information on the application process.