the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Demarest NJ, Saint Peter the Apostle School in Philadelphia recently received a delivery of over 700 books courtesy of Adventures in Ink. Academy of the Holy Angels junior Isabella Dail of Saddle River initiated this non-profit child literacy and educational equity program in 2018. These days, she is expanding her effort with the help of new team members.
Dail’s teammates from AHA are Vice President Ria Jani, Tech Director Grace Watson, Social Media Manager Erin Altenbach, Volunteer Coordinator Mackenzie Wedeen, and Secretarial Manager Shivani Sahu. Adventures in Ink’s core members also include Ethan Daly of Bergen Catholic, and future Angel Julianna Dail, who is the podcast manager.
“Some of our recent work includes establishing a library in Ghana, shipping books to pop-up libraries in laundromats, sending a shipment of books to organizations like the International Book Project, and recording literary readings for the website,” Dail reported.
The donation to Saint Peter’s was a natural extension of Adventures in Ink’s work. AHA and Saint Peter’s were both founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, and enjoy a collegial relationship. Each year, the AHA Student Council helps the younger students celebrate Saint Nicholas Day. AHA also hosts a field day for Saint Peter’s students on the Demarest campus.
Dail said AHA Campus Ministry helped her connect with Saint Peter School Principal Sister Rose Federici, SSND. Dail and Federici discussed the school’s need for books and planned the delivery.
How did Dail amass so many books? When she discovered that libraries regularly discard books to make room for newer volumes, she emailed local libraries and requested donations.
“The response was overwhelming, and I have worked with more than 10 libraries in the Bergen County area. Specifically, Adventures in Ink has fostered a special partnership with the Englewood Library, and we receive many of our books from them, including all of the ones donated to Saint Peter’s School.”
Adventures in Ink team members packed the books in a socially distanced environment.
“We sorted books for quality and appropriate content before placing about five books in individualized bags for the students to take home,” Dail explained. “I then drove the carful of 700+ books to Saint Peter’s School in Philadelphia and personally distributed the book bags to the students,” Dail said. “S. Rose, the staff, and the students at Saint Peter’s were extremely appreciative of our program.”
AHA Principal Jean Miller sent this message to Dail and her team: “This is simply wonderful! Thank you for taking such initiative…I am sure you made a lot of students and S. Rose very happy.”
AHA Director of Campus Ministry Kathleen Sylvester and Campus Minister Maryanne Miloscia also reacted favorably.
“I am very impressed with all the work and organization that went into this, and you showed wonderful initiative and leadership,” Sylvester stated.
Dail, who is an award-winning writer, revealed that the library was her favorite place when she was growing up.
“I always marveled at the expansive shelves teeming with my favorite childhood novels, and I feel incredibly lucky to have had exposure to books from a young age. I wanted to share my love of words with underserved communities, so I founded Adventures in Ink,” she said.
Her nonprofit uses book donations, writing workshops, and literary readings to foster literacy and a love for reading. Dail also hopes to create greater equity in education.
“Words have been formative to me throughout my life, and I want to give that same opportunity to others,” she said.
When she named her organization, Dail wanted to evoke a playful, youthful impression. She chose “adventures” to emphasize the imaginative possibilities of words, and “ink,” which Dail calls the foundation of writing and reading.
Adventures in Ink is already planning several summer projects. Dail notes that the workshops and readings may be in-person or virtual, depending on pandemic protocols at the time.
Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.
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