Goddard Riverside Book Fair Celebrates 30 Years of Fighting Homelessness

The 2016 Goddard Riverside Book Fair will be held on Nov. 21 and 22 at 593 Columbus Ave.

This fall, Goddard Riverside Community Center celebrates an extraordinary 30-year partnership with the publishing industry that has powered anti-homelessness programs.

In 1987, the closure of psychiatric institutions, combined with a lack of affordable housing, left thousands of people homeless in New York City. Many wound up in the parks and streets of the Upper West Side.

In response, members of the publishing industry got together and decided to organize a book fair to benefit Goddard Riverside, which was pioneering cutting-edge programs like street outreach to help the homeless.

“It was like a small orchestra got together,” recalls Carolan Workman. “More and more instruments joined in. The overture swelled, and the music has never stopped.” Today, participants include Barnes & Noble, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Scholastic, Hachette, and Disney. And authors from Calvin Trillin to Mary Higgins Clark, Jeffrey Toobin, Martha Stewart, Robert Caro, Oscar Hijuelos and Maya Angelou have taken part in readings and book signings to raise money.
Not only do members of the book industry organize the Book Fair and Meet the Author dinners; many, including Workman, serve on Goddard Riverside’s board.

“The homeless programs are the ones that mean the most to me,” says board member Susan Richman, a former publicist at Scribner and Macmillan. “It’s not always easy to work with someone who’s been living on the street for many years. Goddard Riverside does that.

“By making their lives better, they make all our lives better.”

Over the years, the book fair and its associated events have raised more than $15 million. The Fair has funded teams of homeless outreach specialists who walk the streets at 2 AM on frigid nights. It has created permanent supportive housing for people who’ve spent decades without a home. It has also supported our education and social programs for people of all ages–building community and fighting poverty to help people avoid becoming homeless in the first place.

Despite all that has been accomplished, the need remains. Today, the city’s homeless shelters are overflowing and low-income tenants are getting pushed out of the Upper West Side as rents skyrocket.

“Goddard Riverside’s mission of helping the poor and homeless is more necessary than ever,” says Nathaniel Marunas, Publisher at Quercus US and a member of the Book Fair’s organizing committee. “In a city where the wealth gap is so stark, there’s room for everyone to get involved.”

Get involved with Goddard Riverside Community Center by visiting their website, and follow Goddard on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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